A plan that's been in the works for the past several years has finally come to fruition for Bangor's Police Department, as all sworn BPD Officers have been issued body worn cameras to use on their person from this point forward.

Bangor Sgt. Wade Betters said he's happy the plan is finally coming into practice:

"We are excited to have these incredible tools at our disposal. The cameras will help us build stronger cases for prosecution, identify training issues, protect officers from false accusations, and allow more transparency with the public. "

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Last September, we reported that the City of Bangor was considering setting aside just under $130,000 from the municipal budget to purchase body cameras and the technology to support them for use by the Bangor PD. The yearly cost to maintain the equipment had not yet been determined.

According to the Bangor Daily News, a month later, that number number more than doubled, but the plan still moved forward.

"City councilors approved the proposal last October by a 6-3 vote. The city will spend $364,049 over three years to lease the cameras and storage space. "

The idea of equipping police officers with body cams met with some resistance at first, as citizens were concerned about the implication of releasing footage captured by the body cams to the public.

Sgt. Betters says that policies have been put into place about where and when officers can film, and what can be released.

"The cameras will be recording nearly all of the time, but there are places (medical facilities and similar) where we won’t activate them due to privacy concerns. All videos are part of a police “record,” and therefore fall under FOAA guidelines. Before releasing any video or even a portion of it, we need to make sure we’ve redacted all 'non-public' components. In other words, just because we have the video  doesn’t mean it will be considered 'public.' This is the same as written documents (police reports). In the future, I hope law changes which make it easier for the police to release video…even from cases pending prosecution."

Sgt. Betters explained that all the officers went through months of training, not only on the policies of using the new equipment, but also on the functionality of the equipment itself. The officers have all been issued their body cams and are currently using them in the field.

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