By CLOEY CALLAHAN
The Town of New Windsor Town Board voted to authorize the request for proposals for body worn cameras for the New Windsor Police Department, one effort to increase transparency within the department and to comply with Executive Order 203, which was ordered by Governor Cuomo to increase mutual trust between police and the communities they serve.
Although the request for proposal was authorized, it will take some time for residents to start seeing the cameras on police officers due to the long process of purchasing the equipment. The New Windsor Police Department has never used body worn cameras prior. In comparison, the City of Newburgh has been in the process of asking for new body worn cameras because the ones used now face technical difficulties and delays in recording and audio.
While they haven’t had body worn cameras, they have seen success with their booking room cameras, which has been used for years. They are able to follow up on complaints, see what happened, and then take the necessary action from there.
“We’ve seen the value of having booking room cameras,” said Deputy Chief Michael Farbent. “It’s a big expense to go with body worn cameras, but Supervisor George Meyers was able to approve that.”
Farbent expects that the same benefits will be seen with the body worn cameras as the booking room cameras.
“There are people out there that think that police are mishandling people,” said Farbent. “The body worn cameras will show what is going on in the streets.”
“This will be an official recording and we will be able to see exactly what happened during the encounter,” said Meyers during the town board meeting.
The approval was for a total of 50 body worn cameras, which means each police officer would be equipped. The police department will establish a policy once they receive the cameras.
Additionally, Police Chief Robert Doss has been working towards creating a committee that will focus on the executive order. It isn’t progressing as quickly as they were hoping, which Farbent explained was due to New Windsor being hit by a rise in COVID-19 cases in the recent weeks.
But, they are gearing up for increased enforcement during the holiday season, as they do every year. At the December 2 Town Board meeting, they approved the receipt of funds from the STOP-DWI Foundation for the “Crackdown” Enforcement program. The grant was $48,000, which will go towards overtime.
“For certain time periods that are more prone for drinking and driving, there will be an extra officer out who is out there specifically looking for those types of incidents,” said Farbent. “It’s usually productive, especially with the pandemic causing an increase of drinking and driving.”