Dartmouth Town Meeting members will consider funding for body cameras for police when the annual Fall Town Meeting convenes in October. The meeting, scheduled for October 19, will likely be conducted remotely on Zoom, just as last year's meeting was, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dartmouth Week reported two random officers were selected to wear body cameras for a month in July as a "trial run for potential permanent use." The publication reported the cameras "record all of the activities that occur while the officers are wearing them." Sargent Joseph Rapoza, who oversaw the experiment, told Dartmouth Week the cameras tell "the whole story" of a police-involved incident. “Sometimes you see a snippet of a partial incident,’’ he said. With camera videos of the entire incident, “there’s less room for speculation.’’

The body cameras are leased from a vendor who stores the recorded videos on a cloud. The videos are available when needed as evidence or to clarify issues of liability or credibility. Police officers can turn the camera off during sensitive situations at their discretion.

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The cost of the body cameras to the town has yet to be determined. There are multiple options available that the police department can choose that would determine the exact cost. There is grant money available to the state to fund police body camera programs.

Police departments face challenges in these days of cell phone technology. Most everyone carries a video camera with them and has access to social media. The anti-police movement has momentum, and police often have to defend themselves against a brief video clip that doesn't present a clear and accurate accounting of an incident.

Body cameras provide an additional tool for police to do their job. Dartmouth Town Meeting members should vote to give police that tool when the annual Fall Town Meeting convenes next month.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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