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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Medford police department to implement body cameras

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A Somerville Police Department patrol car is pictured outside SPD headquarters on Jan. 31, 2020.

The City of Medford released a statement on Jan. 10 announcing they will begin using body cameras across the police department, beginning tentatively in fall 2022. According to the statement, the city and police department signed a five-year deal with Motorola Solutions, a data communications company, for the cameras to equip Medford's 100-person police department. The contract is reported to have cost $330,000.

This project has been in the works for about five years. In 2017, the City of Medford and the police union started communicating on the usage of these cameras, coming to an agreement on the matter in the same year.

According to Steve Smirti, a COVID-19 public information officer with the Office of Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn, this implementation has been a part of the mayor’s plans for a long time.

“The Mayor has been working with Medford Police Chief Jack Buckley to help build lasting partnerships with the community since taking office in 2020,” Smirti wrote in an email to the Daily

Smirti also talked about the importance that this new program holds towards building a bond between both police officers and the public in Medford.

“To achieve a strong bond between community and policing, the Mayor and Chief Buckley have worked to have a force that is more representative of the community, that is more accountable to the people and is more accessible in engagement with stakeholders,” Smirti wrote.

The Daily also reached out to Buckley but received no response to these requests by press time.

According to Smiriti, body cameras are slated to be delivered to the Medford Police Department this spring and should be fully implemented by fall 2022.

According to the statement from the City of Medford, Mayor Lungo-Koehn was optimistic about the impact of having this technology at the Medford Police Department.

“These body-worn cameras are an important tool for building public trust, strengthening community relationships and fairly conducting public safety operations,” Lungo-Koehn said. “I am thrilled that the city is able to bring this technology to the department and add to the City’s commitment to transparency and accountability.”

According to Reuters, the Obama administration funded body camera programs in 2014 in the wake of the Ferguson, MO killing of Michael Brown.As of 2016, around 47% of law enforcement agencies in the United States have purchased cameras. 

Massachusetts, along with many other states, does not mandate the use of body cameras by police departments. TUPD officers do not wear body cameras, according to Yolanda Laurice Smith, head of Tufts public safety.

“We do not use body cameras and we have not begun that conversation yet,” Smith wrote in an email to the Daily.

When asked if TUPD would consider using these body cameras in the near future, Smith talked about future plans in the department.

“We have not added any new resources and tools to our operation, as we are in the middle of an arming study,” Smith wrote. “Once that is done and a policing model is decided, we will focus on and ponder the resources needed to best fit that model.”

Somerville is also in the process of implementing body cameras. The City of Somerville and the police union came to an agreement on the issue in March 2021.

According to a press release from the City of Somerville in March 2021, the implementation of these cameras was a big step toward accountability and community policing.

“The agreement represents a collaborative breakthrough for policing transparency in Somerville and establishes Somerville as an early regional adopter of this important technology," the statement read.