SOMERSET — Somerset police have announced the launch of a body camera program that the department believes will enhance transparency and accountability.

Police said the program started yesterday, with bodycams issued to patrol officers, front-line supervisors, and detectives for use in the field.

A release announcing the program launch noted that officers must now record during dispatched service calls as well as motor vehicle stops, investigatory stops and pursuit driving.

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Cameras must also be turned on during any situation that officers think may become adversarial.

The program is one of the first of its kind in Bristol County.

Somerset Police Chief Todd Costa said the cameras are "an effective tool" that will help increase community trust and protect officers from unjustified complaints.

"Our officers' willingness to embrace this new program demonstrates their professionalism and commitment to serving the community, and we are proud to be spearheading this new initiative in Bristol County," he stated.

The bodycam program was funded through a $27,000 Justice Assistance Grant as part of a $7.8 million state initiative from the Baker-Polito administration to provide access to equipment and strenthen training, crime prevention, and enforcement across the commonwealth.

 

A dedicated server at the department will gather and store video data from the cameras, and camera policy best practices will be reviewed and updated regularly, police said.

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