Published: 8/5/2021 10:07:29 PM
Modified: 8/5/2021 10:07:37 PM
After years of reluctance, New Hampshire State Police will be equipped with body-worn cameras, putting New Hampshire in a race for last-place in New England to implement a camera program for state law enforcement.
On Wednesday, the Executive Council voted to approve a $3.4 million contract with Utility Associates, Inc., that will run through October 2026, with an option to extend for another two years. The Georgia-based company will provide a system to manage and store all video from State Police body-worn and in-vehicle cameras.
New Hampshire has lagged behind its neighbors in outfitting law enforcement agencies with body or vehicle cameras. Vermont State Police began wearing body cameras in 2020, and Massachusetts launched their body cam system for state police in March. State police in Maine have cameras mounted in their cruisers.
Meanwhile, Rhode Island and New Hampshire are racing to see which state will be the last in New England to begin a body-cam or vehicle-camera program. In June, Rhode Island announced a body-worn camera program after it passed a state budget that included funding for cameras. Rhode Island State Police plan for troopers to begin using cameras over the next 12 to 18 months.
New Hampshire State Police will have their cameras fully operational by the end of November, according to the governor’s office.
Last summer, Gov. Chris Sununu convened the Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency Commission, which contained members of law enforcement, lawyers, judges and activists. The adoption of body and dash cameras for the state’s officers was one of the commission’s recommendations. Other recommendations, like collecting racial data on police stops, were ignored by the Legislature.
Sununu said in a statement that the contract’s approval would help increase public trust in New Hampshire’s law enforcement officers.
“The approval of today’s contract to equip State Police with body cameras is yet another step forward in our effort to deliver on recommendations made by the LEACT Commission and implement the most transformative changes ever made to New Hampshire’s law enforcement system,” Sununu said.