The Vermont State Police has begun outfitting all uniformed troopers with body-worn cameras, culminating a multi-year process to secure the necessary funding and fulfilling a commitment to Vermonters to deploy the devices.
The state police launched an effort in 2015 to add body-worn cameras for all troopers to supplement the dashboard camera systems that have been in cruisers since 2000. State police leaders have been working with the Legislature ever since to acquire the body-worn cameras along with the required companion systems to store the video footage
“We’ve been working toward this important step for many years,” said Col. Matthew T. Birmingham, director of the Vermont State Police. “We already appreciate the value and importance of our cruiser cameras and body-worn microphones, and this will enable us to serve our communities with another dimension of transparency.
The roll-out of the body cameras began Nov. 12 at the Westminster Barracks and continued at the Middlesex Barracks on Nov. 19 and the Williston Barracks on Nov. 23. By early December, all 200 uniformed troopers at the state police’s 10 barracks are expected to be outfitted with the cameras.
Manufactured by WatchGuard, the body-worn camera system consists of a wireless camera that attaches to a trooper’s uniform, along with an in-car cradle to keep the cameras charged. Video is transferred wirelessly through cell towers to a cloud storage system. Troopers are required by policy to activate the cameras when they are performing any law-enforcement-related activity, such as traffic stops or criminal investigations.
Purchasing the body cameras and related hardware cost about $760,000. In addition, there is an annual data storage appropriation of $294,000, which includes storing video from cruiser dashboard cameras in addition to the body-worn cameras.
Public access to the videos will be governed by the Vermont Public Records Act and applicable policy.
Body-worn cameras initially were acquired in 2018 for members of the Vermont State Police Tactical Services Unit.
“It’s exciting to see these cameras in the field,” Col. Birmingham said. “The public has been asking for us to have them, and our troopers have wanted them. We’re thankful to everyone who came together to ensure that the Vermont State Police is able to deploy this important technology throughout the state.