Author: PoliceOne Members
Amanda Fries Times Union, Albany, N.Y.
COLONIE, NY — Roughly a month after being hit with a federal lawsuit alleging corrections officers at Albany County Jail abused inmates from Rikers Island, the county is preparing to outfit each officer with a body camera.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said the new technology has been about 2 years in the making, and after recently receiving a nearly $70,000 grant from the state Attorney General’s Office to purchase 43 body cameras, the sheriff’s department is using asset forfeiture funds to buy 140 more.
Every officer in the jail, deputies on the road, EMTs and paramedics will wear cameras, Apple said.
“Everyone is recording everybody at this point, and it’s long overdue we got this,” Apple told county legislators at a recent Finance Committee meeting. “We just didn’t have the funding capacity before. And with the new attorney general, she gave us a $70,000 jump, so it’s time.”
While the recent federal lawsuit wasn’t the impetus behind the move toward body cameras, Apple said it has been in the back of his mind because it would have vindicated the officers.
Inmates from Rikers in New York City who were transferred to the Albany County jail alleged they were beaten by local officers, kept in solitary confinement and then Tasered and hit with batons for not complying with deliberately confusing commands, according to a New York Times report.
The abuse was allegedly designed for inmates from Rikers who had been accused of assaulting correction officers, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan by three inmates and another man who was held at the county jail.
Under the plan, the county would purchase 183 cameras that would be worn by all those on duty. Computer storage and other equipment must also be purchased. The total cost is expected to be about $420,000, Apple said, but the expense would be covered by grants and asset forfeiture funds.
He hopes to begin the roll-out of devices in the next few months.
“We’ll be the first correctional facility in this area” with body-worn cameras, Apple said. “There are a couple county jails that are using them that are much smaller, so our roll-out is a much heavier lift, but it’s time and my focus is on the jail. I’m anxious to get it in place.”
©2019 the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.)