East Hampton Town approved $330,000 in bonds for the police department, which plans to purchase dashboard cameras for municipal police vehicles, according to East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo.
True to their name, “dash cams” sit on the dashboard of a police car, filming outward, while the vehicle is either stopped or in motion. The cameras only start recording, however, when an action triggers them to do so.
“Whether it’s turning on the overhead lights … or accelerating to a high speed will activate them,” said East Hampton Village Police Chief Gerard Larsen, who said the Village Police force has been using dash cameras since 2011.
When a camera is triggered to record, said Chief Larsen, it is programmed to save the film from 30 seconds to one minute prior to the action that prompted the recording.
“We’ve had some allegations that have been disproven by the cameras,” added Chief Larson. “They’ve assisted in prosecutions … they’ve been terrific.”
Although the cameras for the town won’t be installed by the height of the summer season, the department hopes to see them in place by September, Chief Sarlo said. “It’s technology that’s needed to protect the police department and the public,” he said. “It’s a very valuable tool in court proceedings, and it’s something that’s been a priority of ours for the past couple of years.”
According to Mr. Sarlo, the footage from the cameras is most frequently used in DWI proceedings, a vital tool as more and more people pulled over for possible DWIs refuse Breathalyzer tests.
“A lot of what the officers testify to … when you actually see the behavior and the motions, and you hear the person speaking, it’s a much clearer picture of what the officer saw,” he added, explaining the footage offers objective evidence of what took place during a traffic stop, as opposed to just relying on an officer’s notes.
“It also gives the public a sense of security in knowing that those types of interactions are being recorded,” Chief Sarlo added.