HOULTON, Maine — Thanks to a Homeland Security grant, the Houlton Police Department will now be able to outfit its officers with personal video cameras.
According to Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin, nine Vievu wearable body cameras were purchased with the grant money.
The cameras, which cost $800 apiece, are clipped to the front of the officer’s shirt and can be turned on by moving a switch. Each camera can record up to three hours of video.
“Much like the video systems inside the cruisers, the Vievu cameras will assist the officers in documenting such matters as traffic stops, accident scenes, domestic violence cases, and interviewing victims [and] witnesses,” Asselin said. “The benefit with the Vievu cameras is that they go where the officer does.”
At the end of the shift, each officer will download the video into a computer for safe storage. The videos can be used for court, training, the Citizens Police Academy and investigating complaints lodged against the department.
“The cameras will help protect the town and department against civil litigation,” Asselin added.
Officers are not obligated by law to warn an individual that they are being filmed. But, if a citizen asks an officer if they are being filmed, they will respond accordingly, the chief said. Not all of the officers were issued a camera, but when additional funding becomes available, the department intends to purchase more cameras.
“Wearable body cameras are becoming more attractive to police departments when you consider their price, portability and reliability,” Asselin said. “The costs of replacing in-car video systems are thousands of dollars more per unit when making comparisons to WBCs. Many police departments are finding it difficult to purchase new in-car video systems due to their costs.”