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After Unrecorded Derby Police Shooting, Connecticut Looking At Cost Of Body Cameras

Damian Dovarganes

The lack of footage for a police shooting involving a white Derby, Connecticut, officer and a Black man is drawing attention to the cost of body cameras.

Derby city officials said the shooting was not recorded because digital storage for police camera footage was too expensive. The state mandates all departments use body and dashboard cameras by July 2022.

Video from police cameras needs to be stored and catalogued for public records requests, evidence and investigations. The chief of police in Derby said that storage wasn’t covered by state grants to voluntarily use body cameras in 2015, so the department doesn’t use them anymore.

Richard Dziekan is the Mayor of Derby. He’s a Republican and former Hamden police officer. He said the city in the process of approving a budget for cameras, but a state law mandating them by 2022 also won’t fund ongoing video storage.

“It’s like every other city. We were struggling to find money. This is something that came up on us that really wasn’t expected until the legislators passed that law, so we’re looking at about $110,000-120,000 ticket on that. We’re finding the money. We want to get those cameras on there. It’s good for police, and it’s good for the public,” Dziekan said.

Keith Mello is chief of police in Milford. He leads the state’s Police Officer Standards and Training Council. Mello said the state helps bundle costs for police equipment like squad cars and might consider trying to bundle video storage packages.

“I think the state could certainly do that. I think if you look at some of the legislative proposals, you’ll see that. I don’t know that we’re close to doing that, but I think that that would certainly be the answer for municipalities to help with that cost burden,” Mello said.

The state offers reimbursement for up to half the cost of police cameras and the first year of video storage.

Copyright 2021 WSHU

Cassandra Basler comes to WSHU by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. She recently graduated with a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship, which means she has two years to report on an issue anywhere in the world (she's still figuring out where she'd like to go). She grew up just north of Detroit, Michigan, where she worked for the local public radio affiliate. She also wrote about her adventures sampling the city cuisines for the first guidebook to be published in three decades, Belle Isle to 8 Mile: An Insider's Guide to Detroit. Before that, Cassandra studied English, German and Urban Studies at University of Michigan. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.
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