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Dalton Police officers got a run through on how to use their new cameras at the station on Wednesday.

Dalton Police Officers to Go Live With Body Cameras

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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The cameras which look like smart phones, are worn on the front of the uniform and can communicate with each other.

DALTON, Mass. —The police force is expected to go live with body-worn cameras once the officers are ready.

Officers could be ready to use the cameras in the field at the end of next week and on Wednesday, officers got hands-on training in the high-tech devices.

Chief Deanna Strout said the cameras will provide transparency and the ability to have video documentation of what happens on a call, which is helpful to the department. She has been looking into body cameras since taking over leadership two years ago.
The chief feels there is no downside to the program.
"I think it's going to make prosecution a lot easier for us. I think its evidence gathering is going to be much easier, just having a better understanding of how we're handling calls, how to handle calls properly, and anything moving forward," she said.
"It just gives us a lot of information on how to do things better. It's always important to move and grow and do things better."
Utility Inc. was chosen for the body camera program after the town did a pilot with Axon Enterprises Inc., which was chosen as the distributor for Pittsfield. 
Utility technical trainer Chris Juroff explained that everything in the system is relative to ease of use and safety. The cameras look like a smartphone and are worn on the front of an officer's uniform.
"It not only protects the public but it protects the officers in all of the technology that we utilize," he said.
The tutorial detailed the advanced features that were designed by police officers. This includes an integrated computer-aided dispatch system, automatic recording, and an "officer down" alert that is activated if you fall.
Strout said Utility's advanced technology was the determining factor, as officers were surveyed on the choice between companies. 
Sgt. Bustin Buzzella said the Axon field test had gone smoothly but the department likes that Utility body cameras talk to each other, allowing dispatch to send things like BOLOs, or "be on the lookouts," straight to the devices instead of going over the air.
There was a great response to the pilot, the chief said.
"They're all excited about it. I'm really proud to be their chief with how much they wanted to do this. They know it's going to help them, they know they're doing good things out there on calls and so none of them gave me any pushback to get these cameras in," she said.
"But that builds confidence right there for our community, just the fact that they want what they're doing documented. So I think it's a great thing."
The department is receiving 16 cameras to equip each member of the force paid by a $129,368 grant from the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. 
During the presentation, it was pointed out that the camera will activate if it thinks the officer seems to be in a dangerous situation by falling or suddenly running and can backtrack a few seconds to see what happened before the activation.
"The public wants transparency," Buzzella said. "When you see big events involving police across the nation or media one of the first things are looking for is camera footage. Having it is what the public wants and it protects officers as well, so we're happy to have it."
Juroff, who formerly worked for the Goshen Police Department, said the equipment is welcomed by officers, administration, and the public 99 percent of the time.
"We all know with current climates and everything else with policing that cameras are going to be now part of our lifestyle," he said.
"So eventually it'll all be out there and this protects everybody."
James Hall, media and communications specialist, for the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, attended the training to gain insight on how to access body camera footage for the DA through this system.
Along with Dalton, Pittsfield recently joined the Berkshire County communities to implement body cameras.

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By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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