MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Board of Aldermen voiced its support for equipping the city’s police officers with body cameras in response to an ongoing investigation over excessive police force.
Police officials released a statement regarding the investigation earlier in the day Tuesday, which arose following a video surfaced taken outside of the Bonfire Restaurant and Country Bar early Sunday morning. In that video, officers are seen subduing a man on the ground outside the restaurant, after a restaurant employee had called police for an “uwanted subject.”
Alderman Keith Hirschmann made a motion to send the issue of purchasing body cameras to a committee. Mayor Joyce Craig disallowed the motion, stating that Manchester Police Department Chief Carlo Capano is already researching potential body camera vendors and the chief requires more time to bring a proposal forward.
Capano informed the board that with the current list of potential vendors, cost estimates range from $250,000 to $900,000. In those costs, Capano noted that the primary cost driver was storage space for the video, which costs $18 per officer, per month.
Alderman Joseph Kelly Levasseur recommended that the body cameras be limited to officers on late night details in downtown areas or officers responding to incidents at bars, citing cost concerns and a goal to target efforts toward where the body cameras are needed most.
Levasseur also believed the body cameras were necessary to help protect police officer safety.
“I want to protect these police officers who have to do what these guys go through,” he said. “When there are 30 or 40 people yelling and screaming at police officers and only five or six police officers down there, what is this city turning into?”
Levasseur was also concerned about possible misrepresentation from videos of incidents taken by the public, and legal repercussions.
“I’m concerned about the losses we’d be put under and I don’t want to see a police officer get hurt,” he said.
No action was taken on Tuesday night regarding the issue. While the mayor disallowed the motion, she echoed Hirschmann’s sentiment that the board supported the chief in his efforts to provide a proposal regarding body cameras.