PA 17-225—sHB 7308

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING CAMERA AND RECORDING DEVICES AND EQUIPMENT USED BY POLICE

SUMMARY: This act expands a grant program administered by the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) secretary that reimburses municipalities for, among other things, purchasing body cameras for use by sworn members of municipal police departments. Generally, it (1) expands the types of equipment eligible for the program to include electronic defense weapon recording equipment and first-time purchases of dashboard cameras; (2) expands the program's coverage to include additional law enforcement personnel; and (3) extends the program by one year, to FY 19. Under the act, however, any reimbursements must be provided within available resources.

The act also establishes a 26-member task force to examine the use of body cameras by state and municipal police. It must report its findings and recommendations to the Judiciary and Public Safety committees by February 1, 2018.

With respect to municipal police departments that use body cameras, existing law requires their use when police officers interact with the public in a law enforcement capacity, with certain specified exceptions (e.g., encounters with undercover officers or informants). Under the act, body cameras must be used in accordance with the department's policy, if it is adopted in accordance with guidelines maintained by the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) commissioner and Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POST).

Lastly, the act makes minor, technical, and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage, except that the municipal police department policy provision and a technical change are effective October 1, 2017.

GRANT PROGRAM

Existing law requires the OPM secretary to administer a grant program to reimburse municipalities for, among other things, purchasing body cameras for use by sworn members of municipal police departments. The act expands the program to cover (1) purchases of electronic defense weapon recording equipment and (2) use of body cameras and other recording devices by constables, police officers, or other persons who perform criminal law enforcement duties under the supervision of a resident state trooper serving the municipality. It also expands the program to cover any municipality making a first-time purchase of one or more dashboard cameras with a remote recorder. However, it also stipulates that the reimbursement be provided within available resources.

Under the act, “electronic defense weapon recording equipment” means an electronic defense weapon (e.g., a stun gun) that is equipped with electronic audio and visual recording equipment. A “dashboard camera with a remote recorder” is a camera that (1) attaches to a dashboard or windshield of a police vehicle, (2) electronically records video of the view through the vehicle's windshield, and (3) has an electronic audio recorder that may be operated remotely.

Reimbursement Methodology

The act extends the grant program's deadline and modifies the equipment for which municipalities may receive reimbursement.

Prior law required that the grants reimburse municipalities that purchase the following:

1. during FY 17, (a) enough body cameras in sufficient quantities (see below), at up to 100% of the costs and (b) for digital storage services at up to 100% of the costs (provided that reimbursement for such services is limited to the cost for up to one year);

2. (a) from January 1, 2012, through June 30, 2016, such equipment in an amount no greater than described above, and (b) additional body camera equipment during FY 17, if enough equipment is purchased to allow each sworn officer to have a device when interacting with the public in a law enforcement capacity, at an additional amount up to 100% of the costs; and

3. in FY 18, such equipment if the municipality was not reimbursed under the other provisions, at up to 50% of the costs. (For digital storage services, reimbursement is based on the cost of services for up to one year.)

The act instead requires that grants, within available resources, reimburse municipalities that purchase the following:

1. during FYs 17 and 18, 100% of the cost of body cameras (if a sufficient quantity is purchased, see below), electronic defense weapon recording equipment, digital data storage devices or services (provided that reimbursement for such services is limited to the cost for up to one year), and first time purchases of one or more dashboard cameras with a remote recorder;

2. (a) from January 1, 2012 through June 30, 2016, 100% of the cost of body cameras and digital data storage devices or services, in an amount no greater than described above and (b) 100% of the cost of additional body cameras during FY 17 and 18, if the body cameras were purchased in sufficient quantities as described below; and

3. in FY 19, body cameras, electronic defense weapon recording equipment, digital data storage devices or services, or first time purchases of dashboard cameras with a remote recorder if the municipality was not reimbursed under the above provisions, at up to 50% of the costs. (For digital storage services, reimbursement is based on the cost of services for up to one year.)

“Sufficient Quantity” of Body Cameras for Reimbursement Purposes

Under prior law, municipalities could receive reimbursement for body cameras if they were purchased in a sufficient quantity to ensure that each sworn member of the municipality's police department was supplied with such equipment while interacting with the public in his or her law enforcement capacity. The act instead allows municipalities to receive reimbursement for equipment that was purchased in sufficient quantity to ensure that sworn police department members, constables, police officers, or other individuals who perform criminal law enforcement duties under the supervision of a resident state trooper serving the municipality are supplied with the equipment for such purposes.

Under the act, the number of cameras sufficient for these purposes must be determined by (1) the police chief if the municipality has an organized police department or (2) the first selectman or borough warden, as the case may be, if there is no police chief.

TASK FORCE

The act establishes a 26-member task force to examine the use of body cameras by state and municipal police. Specifically, it must examine (1) whether the state statute on body cameras should be expanded or otherwise amended, including whether the statute or a different statute should address the use of electronic defense weapon recording equipment; (2) training associated with using such equipment; and (3) data storage and freedom of information issues associated with the data created by the use of such equipment.

The task force must report its findings and recommendations to the Judiciary and Public Safety committees by February 1, 2018. It terminates on the date it submits the report or February 1, 2018, whichever is later. Table 1 lists the task force's membership.

Table 1: Task Force Membership

Member

Appointing Authority

Chairpersons and ranking members of the Judiciary and Public Safety committees, or their designees (eight members total)

N/A

Chief state's attorney, or his designee

N/A

Chief public defender, or her designee

N/A

Chairperson of the Freedom of Information Commission, or his designee

N/A

One active or retired judge

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

One municipal police chief

President of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association

One representative of POST

Not specified

One representative of the State Police Training School

DESPP commissioner

One representative of the criminal defense bar

Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

Six members of the public

One member by each of the six legislative leaders

A sworn police officer who is a member of the Connecticut State Police Union

Senate president pro tempore

A sworn police officer who is a member of a municipal police department that serves a municipality with 75,000 residents or more

House speaker

A female sworn police officer

Senate Republican president pro tempore

A sworn police officer who is a member of a municipal police department that serves a municipality with fewer than 75,000 residents

House minority leader