Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $133,151)
The Stamford Police Department seeks funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to support the expansion of an existing body-worn camera (BWC) program. BJA funding will allow the Stamford Police Department to provide BWCs to all sworn officers. Additional BWCs will enable the agency to document all encounters in the field and develop clearer understandings of events, which may assist in the criminal justice process.
Stamford is the fastest growing city in Connecticut. As such, calls for service and demands on police time have increased. The largest problem the Stamford Police Department faces is a lack of trust and transparency with the community. This issue has long been an agency focus, though a lack of manpower due to pandemic-induced layoffs and steadily increasing retirements forced the agency to eliminate its popular community policing unit.
The Stamford Police Department also seeks to address youth disengagement in the community. In Stamford, the social impacts of youth disengagement have manifested in a rise in gun violence. The Stamford Police Department links the increased violence to feuds between youths (primarily between the ages of 15 and 25) from different publicly-assisted housing complexes who seek to imitate gang life. The growing violence perpetrated by Stamford youth has taken the form of homicides, armed robberies, aggravated assaults, home invasions, shootings into occupied structures and vehicles, retaliatory shootings, burglaries, and a host of weapon violations.
The key deliverable is the rollout of 75 additional cameras and BWC training to all officers. The Stamford Police Department has established defined metrics and collects relevant data to determine the effectiveness its BWC program. These performance measures enable the agency to actively monitor BWC progress and work to tackle challenges in real-time. A final report will be developed to demonstrate the effect that Stamford’s BWC program had on enhancing evidence collection, increasing rates of prosecutions and convictions, building community trust, and reducing use of force incidents and officer complaints.
With BJA funding, the Stamford Police Department will expand the use of BWCs to improve accountability in two target neighborhoods (West and East Sides) with high poverty and crime rates. BWCs will help the department to collect video footage of episodes involving complaints, administer timely justice, and exonerate officers where appropriate.