Police, Education Departments Testify before Aldermanic Finance Committee in New Haven

By Zahn, Brian | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), April 21, 2016 | Go to article overview

Police, Education Departments Testify before Aldermanic Finance Committee in New Haven


Zahn, Brian, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


NEW HAVEN » New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman defended several aspects of his department's budget for the coming year before the aldermanic Finance Committee Thursday, at a hearing for questions related to the city's police, fire and education departments.

Esserman defended the department's establishment of three full- time positions in its budget currently before the alders: a grant writer and two body-camera technicians.

The grant writer position is currently filled in a part-time capacity, but Esserman's agreement with the police union was to create a full-time position for the employee for this coming year. As far as purchasing body cameras and hiring related staff, Esserman said body cameras are a reality of the evolution of policing, and an inevitability.

"The freedom of information laws in Connecticut are very open, and the laws are very broad, which means anyone can request info from police, and we have to redact it before we turn it over," Esserman said. "We're not allowed to turn the information over without it being reviewed."

Assistant Chief Anthony Campbell said hiring two full-time staffers to review body camera footage is below the recommended ratio of employees to cameras. According to Campbell, a best practice figure says one employee should be hired per 100 cameras; the New Haven Police will have nearly 500 body cameras in the community, he said.

In the case of vehicle stops, Campbell offered as an example, any unticketed passengers or minors must have their faces obscured in the footage before it is released to the public.

"It's costly, too, because the programs that exist today aren't such that you can just highlight a person's face and blur it; you have to go frame by frame," he said.

Esserman said he didn't think it was appropriate to have sworn officers during clerical duties, such as reviewing body camera footage. …

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