St. John Valley

Madawaska Police Department to gear up with body cameras

MADAWASKA, Maine — The Madawaska Police Department will soon be fully equipped with body cameras they purchased through grant funds from the Aroostook County Homeland Security Grant for Law Enforcement. 

While recent events — the Black Lives Matter movement precipitated by a police officer killing George Floyd in Minneapolis by holding his neck to the ground — have sparked police reform throughout the country, Madawaska Police Chief Ross Dubois said he’s been wanting body cams for his officers for years, but that the cost was always so high.

“Several additional manufacturers have now entered the body camera market, helping to lower prices,” Dubois said. “And now with the funds we’ve received … the purchase of the camera has become possible.” 

The grant will cover the cost of four body cameras and a docking station which will receive data from the units and charge the body cameras. The grand total is less than $2,000. 

The grant is one that went out to every department in Aroostook County as part of the Homeland Security Grant fiscal year 2017 grant. At the end of the grants, the Aroostook County Emergency Management contacted the Madawaska Police Department to inform them of the excess funds and see if MPD still wanted to go with their previously requested equipment of fingerprinting technology or something different. 

Darren Woods, director of ACEM, said the altered plan to get the long-wanted body cams instead aligned with the rest of The County’s grant funds allowing Madawaska to join the ranks of officers in Aroostook County that use body cameras.

“Nationally, I think this is where it is going with law enforcement,” Dubois said. “I feel the body cameras are going to become a standard piece of police equipment and will help ensure we maintain the trust we have built in the community.” 

Dubois added that the cameras will provide protection to both the officers and the public, and will help the officers with accuracy of reports and help in testimonies. He also said it would help administration when reviewing officer/suspect interactions. 

He added that in the event a member of the public lodges a formal complaint against the MPD, the body cams can help confirm or disprove the claim. 

“Transparency and accountability are some of the bigger issues in the public eye, and these cameras will be an additional tool the officers will use to continue to provide effective policing services,” Dubois said. 

The Madawaska Police Department will use the International Chief of Police Model Policy on the Use of Body Cams. That model is designed to outline when an officer must record or turn on a camera. The officers also will not be able to delete any of the footage. 

Officer Ryan Albert added that “body cams help to safeguard the officer’s integrity and maintain the community’s trust.”

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