A pilot program to equip Nassau police officers with body cameras edged forward Monday after a legislative committee approved $5 million in funding for the initiative.

The county legislature's public works committee approved the spending, part of Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's long-term capital plan to pay for infrastructure and equipment needs.

The Republican-controlled legislature must approve the funding, and has scheduled a vote on the body camera plan and other funding requests, on Dec. 14. The body camera measure is expected to cost $500,000 in 2020, $3 million in 2021, and $1.5 million in 2022, according to a county spokesman.

In July, Nassau County issued a "request for expressions of interest" from companies to implement the county's first-ever body camera program.

In September, Nassau issued a request for proposals seeking a consultant to help find a vendor, develop the program and draft an agreement for its implementation.

The consultant has yet to be selected, but potential vendors have pitched their plans to county agencies, including the police department and district attorney's office, as well as to members of influential county police unions.

County officials say terms of a body camera program must ultimately be included in new agreements with the county's law enforcement unions.

Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) said because bodycams "establish an accurate and unfiltered account of resident interactions with officers," they are "recognized as an effective deterrent to misconduct and a valuable tool for identifying and removing bad actors from the force. Today’s vote brings us one step closer to deploying a proven and reliable technological aid that will protect residents and officers alike by adding an essential layer of accountability and equity to police encounters."

The legislature also signed-off on other funding, including:

  • An increase of $450,000, to $1.95 million, in funding for bulletproof vests for police officers.
  • An increase of $7.75 million, to $8 million, to replace police vehicles.
  • $750,000 for police department stun guns.

Curran, a Democrat, said Nassau "has persevered during unprecedented challenges this year, a public health crisis and economic crisis, which has shown us how important it is that we commit to smart and transformative capital projects critical to the health, safety and quality of life of Nassau residents. This plan, which includes much needed funding for road resurfacing, will help make Nassau County the ideal place to live, work and play."

Also Monday, Republican legislators introduced two bills to help county veterans. One measure requires the county to designate two parking spots for veterans at county facilities and parks. The other establishes discounts for veterans at county-run facilities.

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