More cameras could be coming to parts of Syracuse

May 17, 2018

More cameras, both on the bodies of police officers and on the streets, could be coming to Syracuse soon. A new trial could put body cameras on 100 police officers for a year at no cost.

The way police solve a crime has changed in today’s camera-centric high tech world. Syracuse Deputy Police Chief Joe Cecile remembers when he started, the first thing an officer would do on a crime scene was to start knocking on doors and asking people if they saw anything.

“The very first thing you do when you go to a crime scene now is look up, start looking to see where the cameras are. Whether they’re public, our cameras, or private cameras, and see if there’s one that may have picked up the crime,” said Cecile. “You still do the canvass, but these cameras have now become invaluable throughout the city.”

And more may be coming. Cecile is asking Common Councilors to let the department add more street cameras to the James Street and Hawley-Green neighborhoods. Lawmakers will also decide whether to let the department take part in a national field trial by the AXON Corporation, a company that makes body cams.

Cecile said it would follow a pilot program that outfitted just over a dozen officers with cameras.

“The officers at first were apprehensive. But now they are asking for them,” said Cecile. “It benefits the police department, it benefits the community I just think it’s an overall win for everyone”

Under the trial, 100 cameras would be on the chests of officers. The department is also coming up with a draft policy for use of the body cameras.

"They’re attached right to the officer, right around the chest area,” said Cecile. “We’re going to outfit the officers with the most exposure to the public, which are the uniformed officers in the marked police cars that work the territories.”

After a year, if the police department wants to keep the cameras, it would cost nearly $190,000 a year for the equipment, software subscriptions and storage of footage.