Two of Derry’s police cruisers will have an updated camera and recording system, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Town Council authorized Town Administrator John Anderson to apply for and accept the grant during its July 9 meeting.
Police Chief Edward Garone spoke to the grant. He said the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) is given by the Department of Justice and has been offered for several years. The amount each town is offered is based on the prime index, and this year Derry is eligible for $20,610. The grant is administered at the county level and the county takes 5 percent, leaving Derry with a net of $19,580.
Garone said he wants to begin upgrading the cameras and recording devices in the cruisers. Under the current system, he said, the patrolman has to have a supervisor help download the sound and video from a shift, and that could take up to 20 minutes. It’s a waste of manpower, Garone said.
Under the proposed system, “As the cruiser pulls into the parking lot, the police software automatically downloads the pictures and recordings, and places it on the station computer.”
All 11 cruisers have cameras and recording devices, Garone said, adding that technology has improved since they were installed. The grant would allow the installation of updated devices on two cruisers, he said. He said he would continue to look for ways to bring the new technology to the other nine, including possible repurposing of funds left over from a previous JAG grant.
There are no matching funds associated with this grant, Garone said, and the only expense is “miniscule – if someone wanted a copy of the tape.”
Councilor Mark Osborne asked Garone about the benefit of having cameras and recording devices in the cruisers. Garone responded, “Let’s start with the premise that our officers are honest, trustworthy, and do their jobs. We do have occasional complaints.” Since they’ve had the on-board recording equipment, they’ve been able to review the incidents in question, Garone said.
“Not to our surprise, our officers are acting properly,” he said. “When we show the tapes to the individual with a complaint, they usually back away.” The cameras, Garone said, keep the department from “false and costly accusations.” The Council voted 7-0 to have Anderson apply for the grant.