MIDDLEBOROUGH – Chief Joseph Perkins and the Middleborough Police Department are pleased to announce the implementation of a body-worn camera program on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, that will enhance the Department’s accountability in the community.
Fewer than a dozen police departments in Massachusetts have deployed body cameras to their sworn officers.
The Department received about 48 Motorola WatchGuard body cameras in early September. Following installation and technical testing, five Middleborough officers wore the cameras for a one-month trial in December to provide feedback on camera capabilities and the Department’s camera policy.
The cameras and a modern, cloud-based video/evidence management system cost about $25,000, which will be supported within the Police Department budget each year.
Each Department employee who performs policing duties has been issued a camera, which must be worn during their shifts.
“It’s been a long-term goal of the Middleborough Police Department to adopt body cameras to increase our transparency, and to show the community we want to do the right thing,” Chief Perkins said. “There is no reason an officer should not wear a camera while working in the public.”
Department leadership has spent several months on its camera policy, fine-tuning it in December during field testing.
The Middleborough Police Department’s camera policy states:
- Officers must use cameras only while on duty, and only for official Department activities.
- Officers are required to record their activities in situations including: service calls; calls involving use of force; encounters with individuals where armed, violent, or assaultive activity is alleged; service of search or arrest warrants; pursuits, where practical; encounters during which a person escalates or becomes adversarial; transportation of any prisoner in a Middleborough Police cruiser; all motor vehicle stops; any official duty or civilian contact which an officer reasonably believes it is in the public’s interest to document.
- Individuals may be recorded when there is no expectation of privacy, such as in a public space. Officers may use their discretion and stop recording if they feel such recording will be insensitive or inappropriate.
- Officers entering a private location such as a residence must announce they are recording, unless an immediate threat to the officer’s life or safety or the life or safety of any other person makes such notification dangerous.
The full body camera policy may be found here.
President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing placed a priority on body camera research and camera programs. The Task Force’s final report indicated that officers wearing body cameras had “87.5 percent fewer incidents of use of force and 59 percent fewer complaints than the officers not wearing the cameras.”
“The Middleborough Police Department and Chief Perkins have long advocated for body cameras, so it is great to see this program implemented,” Town Manager Robert Nunes said. “This can only lead to greater transparency, and improved interactions between our Department and the community.”