SWANSEA — Chief Marc Haslam is pleased to announce that the Swansea Police Department has launched a body-worn camera program for all sworn officers today.
The program officially launched Friday, Dec. 2. All officers, including Chief Haslam, have been outfitted with a body-worn camera, which is embedded in the officer’s uniform to prevent it from detaching, and have received training on how the device operates and functions by Motorola.
“Launching our very first body-worn camera program is a great step for the department to further increase transparency and legitimacy in policing within the community, and it couldn’t have been accomplished without the unwavering support from the Board of Selectmen, the Fraternal Order of Police Patrolmen and Superior Officers police unions, and the citizens of Swansea,” Chief Haslam said. “I would especially like to commend the Fraternal Order of Police Patrolmen and Superior Officers police unions for their support and input on this initiative as their collaboration was integral to finalizing our policy which culminated in the launch of this program.”
Under this program, officers are now required by department policy to wear the body-worn camera at all times during their shifts. Policy dictates that they activate the camera during all police interactions, while keeping in consideration the expectation of privacy, such as while on medical calls or when in contact with confidential informants.
In addition to body-worn cameras, the department also outfitted each frontline vehicle with in-car video systems, which include unlimited storage.
The department first approached the Swansea Board of Selectmen in July 2021 to discuss the potential of equipping the department with body-worn cameras. Chief Haslam then presented a proposal to the Board in August 2021 seeking grant funding from the state for body-worn cameras as well as consideration from the town to fund front-line dashboard cameras.
Chief Haslam and the Swansea Police Department received overwhelming support from the Board and went on to apply for a state grant to fund the program.
At a Special Town Meeting held on Nov. 1, 2021, Town Meeting members approved a funding request of $80,000 to purchase in-car video systems (Dash Cams) for all patrol cruisers. Then, on Nov. 18, 2021, the department was awarded an Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Office of Grants and Research (OGR) Body-Worn Camera (BWC) program grant in the amount of $69,816 to support the body-worn cameras program.
Upon receiving funding, the department was required to come to an agreement with both collective bargaining units of the department on a mandatory policy regarding the use and wear of body-worn cameras.
Town Administrator Mallory Aronstein and Chief Haslam bargained with both the Patrolmen’s Union and Superior Officers Union. An agreement was met and memorandums were signed by both unions and the Board of Selectmen in March 2022.
In October 2022, additional funding for a backup video server, which is needed to ensure the department maintains proper backups of all footage, was approved at a Special Town Meeting.
“I thank the members of the Swansea Police Department for their willingness to be a leader in their industry with the launch of this body-worn camera program,” Town Administrator Mallory Aronstein said. “These cameras are a tool not only in accountability of police officers, members of the public and overall police work, but also a tool for training as our department continually strives to improve.”
Board of Selectmen Chairman Steven Kitchin added, “This is a cooperative effort between the Town and our officers in taking one more step to make all of our police interactions with the public and other parties as transparent as possible. This will protect our officers from frivolous complaints and lead to positive relations with the community.”