Shelton police embrace body, dashboard cameras

SHELTON — For Officer Christopher Brosz, the new body cameras worn by Shelton police are just another piece of equipment worn every day. 

“It is simple to use … and it protects me,” said Brosz, a 10-year veteran of the department, as he placed the body camera on his uniform. “As long as you do job the way you are supposed to do your job, camera is irrelevant.

The Shelton Police Department began a phased roll out of the new body cameras and dash cameras for the patrol vehicles in May, with the force completely outfitted well prior to the July 1, 2022, deadline imposed by the Connecticut Police Accountability Law.  

“This is just another thing that we carry with us to protect us and make our jobs easier,” Brosz said. 

Brosz said it is a protection for him — and his fellow officers — in cases where a complaint is filed. Officers can now produce a full video of the incident in question. 

Lieutenant Robert Kozlowsky said, on the administrative side, the body cameras have displayed what officers deal with daily. 

"In the videos, we’ve seen members of the public use racial slurs, ethnic slurs toward officers,” Kozlowsky said. “We’ve watched people use personally derogatory slurs against the officers, their families. We have seen the restraint used by officers that handle these situations calmly and professionally every day.” 

The overall results have been positive, Kozlowsky said, adding that the body cams offer the department a way to provide a complete picture of every incident. 

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” Kozlowsky said. “Now we can send a video to the court to show what happened. Words can only illustrate so much of a person’s demeanor, their mind set. This has allowed officers to provide administration here and the courts a complete picture of an incident.” 

Kozlowsky said the body and dash cameras are a true benefit for officers in an age where there are cameras everywhere — from doorbells to street corners, and people everywhere with cellular phones recording everything around them. 

“We might as well record the incident from our point of view and make sure we have the whole incident recorded,” Kozlowsky said. 

Last year, the Board of Aldermen approved a five-year contract with Axon, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company that develops technology for military and law enforcement, including a line of body cameras, and, a cloud-based digital evidence platform. 

Through the 2020 Police Accountability Law, all police departments in the state are required to have body cameras and cruiser cams. The law, passed in the wake of national protests against racial injustice and police brutality after the killing of George Floyd, went into effect Oct. 1, 2020. 

Among the new rules included in the law are tighter restrictions on police searches, a duty to intervene if police witness another officer using excessive force and penalties for civilians who call in an incident based on race. 

Other changes to policing brought by the law, including adjustments to qualified immunity that protect police from lawsuits over their conduct and further restrictions on the use of deadly force, went into effect this year. 

The vehicles out on patrol have dash cams and cameras in the back seat that capture audio and video of prisoners while inside the vehicle, Kozlowsky said. And the cameras have caught those in custody saying things they later tried to walk back after seeing the cameras. 

The body cams attach to the officer’s uniform, Brosz said. At the beginning of each shift, the officer must don the camera, and is required to hit the record button when at an incident that requires recording. 

Kozlowsky said the department administration does routine audits. And the system notes who is looking at the videos, time and date. 

"Some officers were nervous at first, knowing they would be recorded all the time, but cameras are everywhere all the time,” Brosz said. “If people can record us, my feeling is why not record them and (have) a full video of the incident.”