Suffolk County Police Department will soon start having officers wear body cameras as part of its police reform plan, the department announced last week.
The first phase of the body camera roll out begins in July with 130 officers from Suffolk’s 7th precinct wearing them. The deployment of the body-worn cameras will continue over a five-year period until all officers have them equipped. The next deployment will be at the end of the summer, according to the department.
“There is no denying it – cameras change everything by providing video and audio that allows an event to be independently verified,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “Our body worn camera program will highlight good police work where needed and ensure that everyone is treated justly and fair. This program will protect our officers, ensure accountability, and build upon the public trust.”
The implementation of body cameras is one part of Suffolk County’s police reform plan, which also includes continuing officer education, changes in responses to mental health calls, and updates to recruitment and staffing procedures, among other aspects, according to the department.
“Today we take another major step forward in our effort to implement the county’s Police Reform and Reinvention Plan as we prepare to deploy our body-worn camera program,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison. “Not only does this comprehensive management and training tool help tell the true narrative of what happened during any incident or interaction with police, it encourages lawful and respectful interactions between police officers and the public.”
There are currently a limited number of Suffolk County police officers equipped with body-worn cameras as part of a pilot program. The department will now begin a five-year contract with Axon Enterprises, which supplies the body cameras and will train officers on the policies and handling of the equipment and related software.
Each officer will receive four hours of training from Axon, while supervisors and investigators will get two hours of training. In total, the county has allotted $24 million for the body camera initiative. This first rollout is $8 million of that allotment.