Southborough police receive grant for body-worn cameras

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Southborough police receive grant for body-worn cameras
(Photo/Dakota Antelman)

SOUTHBOROUGH – The Southborough Police Department will soon be able to purchase body-worn cameras, thanks to a grant. 

Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), whose district includes Southborough, announced that the department was awarded the grant by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Office of Grants and Research. 

Specifically, Southborough received $78,547.98. Chief Ryan Newell said the grant would fully-fund the purchase of the body-worn cameras along with the associated equipment, camera set-up and required software to run the program. 

It’s part of the FY23 Body-Worn Cameras Grant Program, and Southborough is one of 32 departments to receive funding. A total of $2,494,752 was awarded. 

“There are many Massachusetts police departments who are eager to take this important step in police reform, but lack the funding to do so,” said Eldridge. “I’m honored to announce this grant to the Southborough Police Department to help establish their own body-worn camera program, which will ensure that officers are held accountable, and will help strengthen the relationship between the officers and the Southborough community.”

On why Southborough decided to move forward on a body-worn camera program, Newell said he believed that the footage captured during interactions of the officers and community members will provide “better documentation” to confirm the nature of events and support accounts by both officers and residents.

He noted that body-worn cameras led to faster resolution of citizen complaints and lawsuits that allege excessive force and other forms of misconduct.

“Investigations of cases that involve inconsistent accounts of the encounter from officers and citizens are often found to be ‘not sustained’ and are subsequently closed when there is no footage nor independent or corroborating witnesses,” Newell said. 

According to Newell, studies have noted decreases in citizen complaints lodged against officers who are wearing body-worn cameras and decreases in use of force incidents by law enforcement.

“I believe that instituting this program is a big first step in transparency and providing even more confidence that our officers are maintaining professional standards,” Newell said.

According to Eldridge, every department that applied for the grant received funding. 

Newell said he has worked with the union to develop an agreed-upon Body-Worn Camera policy. He said the department is moving forward to purchasing and then implementing the program with the help from the grant.

He projected that the department would roll out the program, including training and implementation, in the first couple of months of 2023.