Cameras in police cars extra set of eyes for officers, prosecutors

Renee Gamela

Ten Utica Police Department vehicles will be equipped with cameras by the end of the month, department officials said. 

Two cars currently have video recording ability, and about six police officers are trained to use the equipment, Public Safety Commissioner Daniel LaBella said. 

“Today, we enhanced public safety, and we will also hopefully have a reduction in seeing police officers attacked,” LaBella said Tuesday during a news conference with Mayor David Roefaro at the police department’s maintenance garage. 

Slain Officer Thomas Lindsey’s patrol vehicle was one of the first cars to receive a camera, officials said. Lindsey was shot and killed April 12 during a traffic stop on Neilson Street.

Lindsey’s car was at the police department’s maintenance garage Tuesday when Sgt. Anthony Martino gave a demonstration to news media and city officials. 

Among the features: 

- Cameras automatically activate when sirens or red lights are turned on or when the vehicle reaches a high rate of speed, Martino said. 

- Officers have the ability to begin recording video from a wireless microphone that officers will wear. Martino said sound can be recorded and video can be activated from up to 1,000 feet away from the vehicle.

- The slim touch-screens eliminate bulky laptop equipment and wires from being in the police vehicle, Martino said, as most of the electronic equipment is stored in the trunk.

All of the department’s 31 marked police cars will have cameras installed by April, LaBella added. 

Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara said he believes the cameras will help improve both public and officer safety and will be a good tool for prosecutors. 

“It’ll help tremendously,” McNamara said. “It’s right there for the jury to see. They don’t have to rely upon somebody’s memory; they don’t have to figure out credibility – they can just look at the video and tell for themselves what they saw happened.”