New York is one of the last states to require their state Troopers to wear body cameras. But a bill just introduced this fall could change that.
"It protects our citizens and it also protects the individuals who are here to serve and protect," says Assemblywoman Letrice Walker.
Assemblywoman Walker is sponsoring a bill that would equip state troopers with body cameras and have dash cameras installed in their car.
A nationwide Associated Press survey showed that New York has the largest primary law enforcement agency not equipped with cameras. And this fact is not lost on Thomas Mungeer, President of the New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association.
"We’re the ninth largest police department in the entire country and out of the top twenty police departments we are the only ones not to have them," said Mungeer. "I think it’s about time that the state police catch up."
But money for State Troopers is already being stretched thin, especially with the new criminal justice reform bills being implemented next year. Mungeer says that installing and maintaining the upkeep on the cameras could cost between $13-15 million more than what the department is receiving now.
"If the Legislature doesn’t fund this with new money then their might be a problem because you can’t take from the existing money that we have. We are already stretched thin," explained Mungeer.
Lawmakers are looking at trying to include this bill in the state budget this next year, but will also have to go through collective bargaining with the State Trooper’s Union.
"It’s just going to be important to begin the conversation so it’s good to know that at least they are open to some element of this because it really is an idea that helps both sides," said Assemblywoman Walker.
New York’s Attorney General Leticia James is also calling on the Governor to equip state police with body cameras.