WXXI AM News

police body cameras

This week the Rochester Police Department admitted that two officers roughed up a black man without justification. It comes at a time when police accountability is a significant topic of debate: how to reform the system and make sure it leads to justice?

Our guests discuss it:

Local activists, members of the faith community, and law enforcement officers are working together to improve police-community relations in the Greater Rochester area. Last weekend, the fourth annual Police Relations Summit covered a range of issues, including police use of force, body cameras, plea bargaining, implicit bias and more.

We sit down with leaders who attended the summit to discuss what they learned and what they hope to accomplish. In studio:

The City of Rochester has entered a partnership with the Coalition for Police Reform – Community Justice Advisory Board to create more transparency in the Rochester Police Department's Body Worn Camera Program. Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli says more than 500 cameras have been used by officers since March, producing between 35,000 and 42,000 videos every month.

While national studies in previous years have shown the use of body worn cameras contributed to a decrease in complaints against police and use of force by officers, a rigorous study in Washington, D.C. released in October indicated that the cameras had no impact on citizen complaints or police officers' use of force.

This hour, we discuss what's next for the Body Worn Camera Program in Rochester, and the impact the cameras have on policing at the national level. In studio:

  • Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli
  • Lt. Michael Perkowksi, head of the RPD's Body Worn Camera program
  • Iman Abid, member of the Coalition for Police Reform and chapter director of the Genesee Valley office of the ACLU of NY
  • Mike Bleeg, member of the Coalition for Police Reform

Rochester police are getting ready to use body cameras. How will they work?

The cameras will be operational in July, and we talk to Chief Michael Ciminelli and Captain Kevin Costello about how the BWC project is laid out. (BWC is the city's shorthand for "Body Worn Cameras.")

We take listener questions about the approach, when the cameras will be turned on and off, when the public will be allowed to see pieces of video, and more. Our guests:

  • Chief Michael Ciminelli
  • Captain Kevin Costello

In many ways, police work is more under the microscope than it has ever been. There are cameras everywhere. Citizens capture almost everything on cell phone video. Many officers welcome that; but still others say that it makes doing their jobs occasionally difficult, feeling that a single incident can be captured, without context, and cost a career.

We sit down with Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli to discuss how his officers feel about the scrutiny, and how to continue building a strong relationship with the local community. Our guests:

  • Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli
  • Rochester Police Captain Kevin Costello
  • Rochester Police Investigator Jackie Shuman

If not for the cell phone video that surfaced last week depicting Officer Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott as he fled, unarmed, in North Charleston, the only record of that event would have been the officer’s false testimony.

As a result, community leaders, activists, officers, and citizens are again discussing the potential of police body cameras as a useful tool to protect both citizens and the police.

Veronica Volk / WXXI

Rochester Police are getting body cameras, according to an announcement by city officials. Mayor Lovely Warren joined Police Chief Michael Ciminelli in stressing the potential safety benefits for both police and citizens.