Nassau County Executive Laura Curran recently announced the purchase of 2,500 state-of-the-art body worn cameras for police officers to wear while on patrol, as well as the formation of Police Diversity Committee to review current police hiring practices.
Both initiatives address issues outlined in the Nassau County Police Reform and Reinvention Plan, which was approved by the Nassau County Legislature with bipartisan support. The adopted plan, born out of more than 120 public input sessions, enhances transparency, accountability and robust community-oriented policing policies in the Nassau County Police Department.
The camera technology, which will be worn by uniformed police officers while they are on patrol, as well as by supervisory staff, is expected to be fully implemented before the end of the year.
“This is an important step that enhances transparency and promotes greater accountability in the police department,” Curran said. “We are committed to building further upon the well-established trust that the Nassau County Police Department has already established with the communities they protect and serve by implementing this critically important investigative tool.”
Island Tech Services of Ronkonkoma was selected to provide the Nassau County Police Department the cameras, along with training, technical support and the ability to seamlessly upload encrypted evidence to a secure cloud-based system from about 400 police patrol vehicles.
Curran began evaluating equipment options last June by issuing an official Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) to gather the most up-to-date information from the vendor community on programs, equipment and costs. Vendors were then invited to give presentation of their products and services to members of the police unions, as well as representatives from the Nassau County District Attorney’s office, Nassau County Police, Information Technology, Management & Budget, Minority Affairs and Shared Services departments.
To expedite transparency in policing, the county’s final purchase is being made from New York State’s Office of General Services competitive price list.
The BC-03 body worn cameras that were purchased are extremely durable and lightweight, weighing less than 5 ounces, and includes high-definition video and high-fidelity audio.
The cameras are manufactured by Getac, an industry leader in body worn cameras with General Electric technology, and produce these cameras for a wide range of police forces from Springfield, MA to Israel. The estimated cost to fully implement the police body-worn camera program by the end of the year is approximately $5 million.
In addition to the Nassau County Police Department, the county also includes 20 independent local police departments falling under incorporated village or special district jurisdiction. The 2020 Nassau County Shared Services Plan, under New York State’s County-wide Shared Services Initiative (CWSSI) law, applies to these other municipalities if they are interested in the joint purchasing of equipment and shared record storage, by mutual agreement.
The camera program is moving forward and formal discussions with the PBA on a stipend are ongoing.
The Nassau County Police Diversity Committee is being formed to improve police hiring. In the 1980s and 1990s, consent decrees were established by the United State Department of Justice to actively oversee and monitor police hiring exams and fair hiring practices. These efforts have not yielded a diverse workforce. The goal will be to explore options that can improve diversity through three stages of the hiring process:
Recruitment, Testing and Training.
• Examining getting out from under the consent decrees.
• Recruitment—Focusing on new methods and strategies to reach more potential police officers from minority communities.
• Testing—Working with minority candidates to prepare for each facet of
the police examination and hiring process.
• Training—Assisting minority candidates in the Police Academy to finish their rigorous training.
The Police Diversity Committee will review ways to strengthen various mentoring programs so that police officer candidates successfully complete each stage of the hiring process and will explore better opportunities for improving diversity under either New York State Civil Service, or a separate county program.
“I am committed to increasing diversity within the police department and look forward to exploring how the hiring process, from recruitment to training, can be improved,” Curran concluded.
—Submitted by the office of County Executive Laura Curran