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Syracuse receives federal grant for police body cameras

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner at City Hall.

The city of Syracuse has been awarded a grant of more than $100,000 for a pilot police body camera program. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said she hopes the cameras will improve accountability and community relations among police and the public.

Miner said she could see a time when all of Syracuse’s police officers have body cameras. But for right now, she said the grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will allow for just 10 cameras and that is a good start.

“It’s my belief that when you have accountability, you have better public policy,” Miner said. "We think these body cameras will also protect our neighbors, people who live in the city of Syracuse, and police officers and give us a sense of what actually happens in sometimes these chaotic events."

Miner also said having more physical evidence produces better outcomes in investigations. She said the stationary police surveillance cameras around the city started in the same way as the body cameras, as a pilot program. The mayor said people needed to feel comfortable with them and now the public is asking for more.

“I think we will see the same with body cameras as long as we do it in a methodical and thoughtful way,” Miner said.

It has yet to be determined which divisions of the police department will train with the cameras. And the city wants to be sure the cameras will work in Syracuse’s cold winters. Miner said she hopes the program will begin this year.

Syracuse applied and failed to receive police body camera funding from a different federal grant last year. This year's application asked for a much smaller number of body cameras and had the support of the common council.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.