BY: Citizens Count
While there currently is no law in New Hampshire requiring police officers to wear body cameras, some New Hampshire towns have adopted the use on their own. Those departments who have not embraced the policy often cite cost of equipment and data storage.
Recent incident on NH I-89 highlights body cam debate
On May 19 two state troopers shot a man they pulled over for driving a stolen vehicle on I-89. While the incident involved law enforcement from surrounding towns as well as state troopers, none of the officers had active body or dashboard cameras. As part of their investigation of the incident, the Attorney General’s office had to ask permission from civilian witnesses to share footage captured on their personal cameras.
The incident resurrected the debate on whether officers should be required to use body cams when interacting with the public.
Supporters of body cameras generally argue that cameras reduce conflicts between citizens and the police by creating an indisputable record of police interactions with the public. A study by the University of Cambridge found body camera usage resulted in a drop in use of force by 50%. Body camera recordings can also provide valuable evidence in criminal cases.
However, body cameras also create concerns about privacy, for example when a person is shot by the police and his or her family wants the recording kept private. A final concern is the cost of buying cameras and managing the recordings. The New Hampshire Department of Safety estimates that body cameras for the state police would cost $472,400 in the first year and roughly $255,000 each year thereafter. The state could cover those costs by applying for grants and/or raising fines.