Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $12,816)
The Suffern Police Department is requesting federal funding to implement a body worn camera program. Recently, the Suffern Police Department participated in the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, as mandated by Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 203. During this initiative, our agency performed “a comprehensive review of current police force deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, and develop a plan to improve such deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, for the purposes of addressing the particular needs of the communities served by such police agency and promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness, and legitimacy, and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color”. Our Chief of Police, Mayor, various police department personnel, and stakeholders in the community met multiple times, over several months to develop a plan, which addressed evidence-based policing strategies, including but not limited to, use of force policies, procedural justice; systemic racial bias or racial justice in policing; implicit bias awareness training; de-escalation training and practices; law enforcement assisted diversion programs; restorative justice practices; community-based outreach and conflict resolution; problem-oriented policing; hot spots policing; focused deterrence; crime prevention through environmental design and violence prevention and reduction interventions.
A theme that we saw come up multiple times throughout this collaboration was the use of body cameras for police officers. Our police reform committee unanimously agreed that implementing a body camera program within the Suffern Police Department would not only benefit the public, but would also benefit police officers on the street. This resulted in a recommendation from the committee that the Village of Suffern research and procure funding to equip police officers with body cameras in order to increase transparency, protect the public from misconduct, as well as protect police officers from false allegations of wrongdoing.
The Suffern Police Department is proposing to purchase 12 body worn cameras, along with the hardware, software and cloud-based storage to implement a body worn camera for our agency. This will allow us to equip each officer on patrol at any one time, along with our detectives (when appropriate based on policy) with a body worn camera. We have obtained quotes from body worn camera suppliers and have chosen a system from Cop Trax (Stalker Radar Applied Concepts), that will best meet our agencies needs. The body worn cameras will be deployed on officers and will serve to protect the Village of Suffern residents, businesses, commuters, religious institutions, and police officers within the Village of Suffern.