ORANGE COUNTY – Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced on Friday, June 12, 2020, that his Office will offer funding to Orange County’s local police agencies and to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for the purchase of body-worn cameras (BWCs), and for training about implicit bias. The funds will be taken from forfeiture proceeds that the District Attorney’s Office received from 2019’s Operation Bread, White, and Blues narcotics investigation.
Funding will be provided for the purchase of BWCs for any agency that wishes to equip its officers with them. The District Attorney’s commitment extends to the purchase of equipment, but not to its maintenance or storage, or to storage of recorded video. Town, village, or city councils or boards for interested agencies, or in the case of the Sheriff’s Office, the County Legislature, would have to approve BWC purchases in advance, and would have to agree to provide funding for maintenance and storage.
In addition, funding will be provided for implicit bias training for any interested police agency. Implicit bias training is designed to expose people to unconscious biases that may influence their behavior; to provide tools to adjust to the influences that unconscious bias might cause; and to thereby eliminate unconscious discriminatory behavior. District Attorney Hoovler will also require his staff to participate in similar training, so that police and prosecutors may both address any bias in their professions.
“Transparency on the part of law enforcement and the trust of our communities are essential to what we do in the 21st Century,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “The use of body-worn cameras has been shown to enhance that transparency and trust, as well as to provide evidence and clarity about what happens in some volatile situations. In addition, there are those who believe that law enforcement exhibits racial bias against citizens. Implicit bias training is designed to make officers aware of any unconscious biases that they might have, and to train them to avoid any discriminatory behavior that those unconscious biases might cause. Through these two funding programs, we hope to help our police agencies maintain transparency in their operations, and to address any racial issues that might arise in policing.”
“The Orange County District Attorney’s offer to provide Orange County police departments with body cameras is a welcomed contribution to our resources,” said Dominick Blasko, Chief of the Town of Crawford Police Department and President of the Police Chiefs’ Association of Orange County. “This equipment can certainly assist our agencies in increasing transparency and accountability for our personnel. While it is a great first step, this offer addresses just one area of a complete body camera program. The storage of video footage, privacy concerns for crime victims and witnesses, and the development of appropriate department policies and procedures are just a few of the significant logistical concerns. These concerns are currently preventing police and municipal leaders from being able to put these programs into place within their respective agencies. The members of the Police Chiefs’ Association of Orange County are committed to bringing the changes needed to be more transparent to our communities and to increase the safety and security of all our residents and business owners. We now call upon our State officials to consider the financial implications of this program and provide law enforcement with the necessary additional funding to support this valuable and necessary initiative.”
“The funding provided by District Attorney Hoovler will greatly enhance our ability to provide effective implicit bias training for our police officers,” said William Worden, Chief of the Port Jervis Police Department. “That funding will also help police agencies develop effective body worn camera strategies and deployment programs that will increase public confidence and support for municipal policing in Orange County.”