Auburn City Police Department officers are set to start wearing body cameras this year. The move comes as part of Auburn’s community policing plan required by New York State’s Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative (EO 203). The plan also includes a Victim Specialist Program is partnership with Cayuga Counseling Services.
The City of Auburn Police Chief James Slayton recently sat down with FingerLakes1’s Ted Baker to discuss the Body Worn Camera rollout and how the Victim Specialist Program can help crime victims navigate the court system.
In his interview with Ted Baker, Chief Slayton said the Auburn City Council has approved the “final piece of funding” for the Body Worn Camera program. While Slayton hopes to see his officers outfitted with body cameras by July 2022, he says there a quite a few steps the city must take before this can become a reality.
The Auburn City Council initially thought it would be able to match funds for body cameras using money from the federal American Rescue Plan, but this turned out not to be the case.
“We’ve had support from the City Manager, Mayor, and Council moving forward with this program and they see the value it has to not only the department, but the city,” said Chief Slayton.
There are differing opinions regarding the efficacy of body cameras in the law enforcement community. Chief Slayton supports the program as he believes it will help officers tell their side of the story when interacting with the public.
“More and more now than ever, police are being videotaped out on the streets, by bystanders [and] by victim suspects. So, us having our own body camera and version of the whole incident that had happened, we’ll be able to see that and not just what is sent to us,” explained Slayton.
The body camera technology is quite advanced. Axon Enterprise, the company that supplies Auburn police with tasers, released a new taser, called Taser Seven, which links tasers to body cameras.
“Right now, we have to switch cartridges between the tasers if we have two incidents at once. The new tasers will have two cartridges, and the link with the body cams is there’s a sensor on your holster,” said Slayton.
Additionally, Slayton explains, turning on Body Worn Cameras will not be the sole responsibility of the officer wearing one- if specific actions are performed, body cameras will automatically turn on via sensors on the taser holder.
Body cameras are not the only development to come out of the community policing plan, which police departments across New York were required to develop in order to receive certain state funding. Auburn has also enacted a new Victim Specialist Program, which is designed to help victims in the aftermath of a crime.
“So, what happens in the police department. We deal with a lot of victims of crimes, whether it be domestic violence, property crimes. The officer takes the initial report, may take a statement from somebody, and then we either make an arrest or no follow-up on the complaint,” explained Slayton. “And that’s where it kind of ends for the police. This victim specialist allows those victims that have another voice. If they have questions, if they can’t get a hold of the officer, or to help walk them through the process of what else is needed or what else they can do with the district attorney’s office to help them along in the process.”
You can listen to the rest of Ted Baker’s interview with Auburn City Police Chief James Slayton, here.