Shelburne Police are now sporting 17 body cameras and 17 Tasers as part of a new safety program to provide the latest equipment for the officers while protecting the community.
Until recently, Shelburne officers had to share five Tasers and four cameras. The equipment was handed over at the end of a work shift by one officer to the next one coming on-duty.
Now each officer is responsible for his own Axon Taser and camera, Deputy Police Chief Aaron Noble said.
“It creates ownership,” Noble said about the better treatment the equipment is likely to receive.
Several local residents and business owners have expressed interest in helping fund the $86,000 annual cost. About $35,732 had been donated by local residents and businesses, Town Manager Joe Colangelo said.
Noble credited Officer Cole Charbonneau with doing the research on both pieces of equipment during the summer. In the end, the best choice was Axon’s “Officer Safety Program”; the company provides both pieces of equipment.
The normal cost was $100,000 a year, but Charbonneau, working with Axon, was able to get the price reduced in the first year for Shelburne by $14,000, Noble said.
The town is authorized 12 full-time officers and also carries between two and four part-time officers. There is a spare Taser and camera in case one is out of commission.
There is a full no-fault warranty with the equipment with repair and replacement coverage. Somebody could drive over a Taser or camera and it will be replaced no questions asked, Noble said. There also is unlimited evidence storage of videos under the program.
Charbonneau said that, when the camera is turned on, it will go back and capture the 30 seconds of video before the switch was activated.
While some cameras are attached to the uniform with magnets inside a shirt or vest, Shelburne has obtained devices that lock into the vest so they cannot be dislodged, Charbonneau said. He said there also are several precautions to prevent tampering. Videos also cannot be accidentally deleted. Other officers cannot watch a video involving another officer without proper authorization. The cameras will leave a trail showing each and every time a video has been played.
Noble said the department also has updated its policies on both the use of Tasers and body cameras in conjunction with the upgrade of the equipment.
The private donations by local residents and businesses to police agencies allows for purchases that otherwise would fall on the backs of taxpayers. Burlington has a police foundation that raises funds for its police department.
Colangelo said Shelburne has had a line-item in the police budget to accept donations for at least 10 years. “It’s not uncommon for people to give to the PD,” he said.
Among those making donations were, Bruce Lisman for $13,232 and The Automaster/DuBrul Family, Pizzagalli Foundation and Patrick Henry each for $5,000.
John DuBrul III, a vice president at Automaster, said Lisman had approached him and he had seen the need.
“Somehow it slipped through the budget,” DuBrul said. “We are talking the safety of the people. It was not worth waiting.”
He said the town could face serious liability claims by not having video cameras capturing events.
“We wanted to make sure they have all the best equipment. It is not an easy job,” DuBrul said about the daily challenges police face.
“The town has been good to us, our family and the business,” DuBrul said the reason they donated.