Freeport police to expand cop camera program

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An existing in-car and body-camera pilot program being tested by the Freeport police department is being expanded to the departmentwide level, the department and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said Thursday.

The cameras -- a cigar-shaped recording device worn under an officer's shoulder-level epaulet, as well as in-car video recording systems -- will be paid for with $108,000 in asset-forfeiture funds, Rice said.

That funding will allow Freeport to purchase 30 additional body cameras, as well as 11 additional in-car systems.

Officials said the pilot program has proved the cameras to be a valuable tool in keeping officers safe, as well as providing valuable evidence for prosecutors and police.

Officials said the cameras also help protect citizens' rights.

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"These cameras have proven to be an extremely beneficial tool in fighting crime, providing better policing and supporting crime victims," Freeport Police Chief Miguel Bermudez said in a statement.

The pilot program, launched in January, was tested with four body cameras and eight in-car systems.

Benefits of the cameras, according to Bermudez, are recording victim statements, chronicling injuries, documenting the actions of a defendant at the time of arrest, evidence gathering at crime scenes, providing documentation from an officer's perspective at the scene of a crime or stop, and reducing false complaints against police officers.

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