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Police chief says he supports body cameras, but coming up with funding remains issue

Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said he supports body cameras for officers, but that the cost to implement and maintain them “is not cheap.”

“The cost estimate that we got was about $160,000 per year,” he told the Town Board at its Thursday work session. 

The $160,000 would be an annual expense, he said. 

There would also be costs for cloud storage of the video recorded with the cameras, and in some departments, officers receive a stipend to wear the body cameras.

“There’s a lot issues involved,” he said. 

He added: “We spoke to the NAACP because they had concerns that it wasn’t happening immediately. Give us the money and it will happen immediately. It’s not that we don’t want them, we do want. It’s coming up with the funding and all the other stuff that goes into it.”

Body cameras were one of the suggestions made in Riverhead’s Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Plan, which was required of all police departments through an executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year.

The order required all municipalities to submit plans in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, which was captured on video and led to protests taking place throughout the nation.

The report will be the subject of a public hearing before the Town Board on Tuesday, March 16 at 2 p.m.

The plan listed establishing the use of body cameras as a long-time goal.

A survey that was done as part of the plan asked respondents to give their “perception of relationship between the Riverhead Police Department and Riverhead participants.”

The responses revealed: Excellent 50%, Good 34%, Fair 11%, Poor 3%, and Very Poor 2%.

“What was refreshing was that many of the applications recommended by the plan are already in place and have been,” said Councilman Tim Hubbard, who is a retired town police officer. “It’s not like it was new stuff to the Riverhead Police Department.”

The 88-page report is on the town’s website.