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Buy New Police Body Cameras

Bridgeport officials have no choice but to pinch every penny in the village’s coffers. Municipal finances remain a day-to-day concern.

Village council members should find a way to make a purchase recommended by police Chief John Bumba, however.

During a council meeting Tuesday, Bumba proposed that the village purchase seven new digital body cameras for police officers. He explained nearly all the body cameras purchased about a year and a half ago have stopped functioning. “So, we have one camera that will record a five-minute video,” Bumba noted.

His proposal is for a $28,000 expenditure, spread out over a period of years. The first payment, due in January, would be $9,000. Annual payments of $4,872 would follow.

For that, Bumba’s department would receive seven cameras, plus accessories and “cloud” storage space for video recordings. In addition, about once every two years, the provider would replace all the cameras with new ones.

One attractive feature of the proposed system is that it would allow for “redacting” — that is, editing out — parts of videos such as those showing minors and home interiors, Bumba said.

Bridgeport’s new interim fiscal officer, Chris Kirby, told council members the police department is spending less than had been expected. If that continues, “I don’t see why we couldn’t do it,” Kirby said of the chief’s request.

Council members are expected to decide the matter in December. Before that happens, they and Bumba should investigate the proposal more closely to ensure the company involved is a reputable, reliable one. Bridgeport cannot afford a repeat of the experience with the current set of body cameras.

One way or another, council should find a way to ensure police officers have the cameras. In this day and age, it is important for law enforcement personnel to have that visual/audio proof of what happens when they are on duty — both to aid in prosecutions and as a defense when they are accused of misbehavior.

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