Following a recent state arbitration ruling that put on ice his plans to install cameras in police cruisers, Mayor Domenic Sarno is reminding the public that the idea originated with the city’s citizens’ police review board.
Earlier this week, the Joint Labor Management Committee ruled in favor of the Springfield patrol officers’ union in its protest of a city plan to install cameras in cruisers, as well as audio recorders on officers’ uniforms. Citing “the potentially far-reaching impact of the City’s proposal,” the panel called for a committee to study the idea, which could not be implemented before the end of the union’s current contract. That contract expires in June of 2016.
In response, Sarno’s office points to the 2011 report by the Springfield Community Police Hearing Board that recommended the installation of cameras. According to that report, cameras “would assist the City in protecting the patrol officers from assaults and unfounded allegations of police misconduct. The video cameras may also provide protection to civilians from police misconduct.”
The hearing board also cited a national survey showing strong public support for cruiser cameras. “While law enforcement views the acquisition of camera technology as a means to demonstrate their professionalism and increase officer safety, the public views cameras as a means to guard against abuse. Despite the difference in opinions, both the public and the police have shown support to use the technology, making the acquisition and implementation of an in-car camera program a win/win proposition for all.”
The debate over the camera issue runs concurrently with a larger debate over whether the city ought to reinstate a Police Commission. Sarno opposes that move.