Riverhead and Southold police departments are each getting state grants to...

Riverhead and Southold police departments are each getting state grants to cover the cost of the body cameras, similar to one seen here. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Police officers across the North Fork will soon wear body cameras alongside their badges.

Riverhead and Southold police departments are each getting state grants — $1.47 million for Riverhead and $980,225 for Southold — to cover the cost of the cameras and systems required to store footage.

The departments are the latest on Long Island to equip its officers with the technology, joining Nassau and Suffolk counties. Advocates say cameras enhance officer safety and accountability and improve public trust. More than 300 agencies statewide were awarded $127 million to boost public safety through technology upgrades like license plate readers and cameras, Gov. Kathy Hochul said May 13.

In Suffolk, 21 agencies were awarded $12.8 million, the largest grant of $7.1 million awarded to the county police department. 

Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said the grant will cover the cost of 100 cameras for the department, which has 95 officers and plans to hire five more.

"We have no issue wearing them," Hegermiller said. "It’ll be positive for the community and for the force."

Officers will need training on how to use the cameras and follow procedures for proper use.

In Southold, 45 officers will be outfitted with cameras. The grant also will fund new portable radios to allow officers to toggle between networks and communicate with other regional agencies.

Five Southold officers wore body cameras in a pilot program in August, according to Police Chief Martin Flatley.

He said he was “impressed” by the footage since it goes beyond traditional dashboard camera video.

“It gives a perspective of what they're going through and the decisions that they have to make,” Flatley said.

Both police chiefs expect officers to be paid stipends to wear the cameras, but the exact amounts are still under negotiation with police unions.

Similar agreements are in place for the Suffolk County Police Department, which struck a deal in 2021 to pay officers a $1,000 annual stipend for the first three years and $3,000 after. Nassau pays officers $3,000 annually to wear body cameras.

Flatley said officers embraced the program.

“Most officers realize that video is there to help us and help prosecute cases, but also to protect against any kind of false claims," he said.

Several law enforcement agencies on the East End have established body camera programs since 2021, including Southampton Town, Southampton Village and East Hampton Town. Hempstead Town began rolling out cameras in 2022, Newsday reported.

Southampton Village Police Chief Suzanne Hurteau said the police department plans to use a $355,620 grant to expand surveillance cameras in the village, purchase more license plate readers and expand the body camera program that began in January.

Implementing body cameras is a goal set forth in both towns’ police reform plans in 2021. Those plans were ordered by former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

Carolyn Peabody, of Orient, who serves on Suffolk County’s Human Rights Commission, said body cameras are a “critical” part of police oversight.

“It’s ‘he said, she said,’ but now you have a third eye that can be there,” she said.

Peabody said it’s important to make sure departments follow through with sound policies that govern when cameras must be turned on.

“There has to be accountability to make sure that officers use this really important technology,” she said.

Riverhead Supervisor Tim Hubbard said the grant lifts a financial burden.

“The big expense is keeping this evidence protected in the cloud,” he said.

Hubbard, a retired town police detective, said he supports the camera system.

“If you’re doing your job right as a police officer, a body camera is only going to help you,” he said.

With Joe Werkmeister

Police officers across the North Fork will soon wear body cameras alongside their badges.

Riverhead and Southold police departments are each getting state grants — $1.47 million for Riverhead and $980,225 for Southold — to cover the cost of the cameras and systems required to store footage.

The departments are the latest on Long Island to equip its officers with the technology, joining Nassau and Suffolk counties. Advocates say cameras enhance officer safety and accountability and improve public trust. More than 300 agencies statewide were awarded $127 million to boost public safety through technology upgrades like license plate readers and cameras, Gov. Kathy Hochul said May 13.

In Suffolk, 21 agencies were awarded $12.8 million, the largest grant of $7.1 million awarded to the county police department. 

Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said the grant will cover the cost of 100 cameras for the department, which has 95 officers and plans to hire five more.

"We have no issue wearing them," Hegermiller said. "It’ll be positive for the community and for the force."

Officers will need training on how to use the cameras and follow procedures for proper use.

In Southold, 45 officers will be outfitted with cameras. The grant also will fund new portable radios to allow officers to toggle between networks and communicate with other regional agencies.

Five Southold officers wore body cameras in a pilot program in August, according to Police Chief Martin Flatley.

He said he was “impressed” by the footage since it goes beyond traditional dashboard camera video.

“It gives a perspective of what they're going through and the decisions that they have to make,” Flatley said.

Both police chiefs expect officers to be paid stipends to wear the cameras, but the exact amounts are still under negotiation with police unions.

Similar agreements are in place for the Suffolk County Police Department, which struck a deal in 2021 to pay officers a $1,000 annual stipend for the first three years and $3,000 after. Nassau pays officers $3,000 annually to wear body cameras.

Flatley said officers embraced the program.

“Most officers realize that video is there to help us and help prosecute cases, but also to protect against any kind of false claims," he said.

Several law enforcement agencies on the East End have established body camera programs since 2021, including Southampton Town, Southampton Village and East Hampton Town. Hempstead Town began rolling out cameras in 2022, Newsday reported.

Southampton Village Police Chief Suzanne Hurteau said the police department plans to use a $355,620 grant to expand surveillance cameras in the village, purchase more license plate readers and expand the body camera program that began in January.

Implementing body cameras is a goal set forth in both towns’ police reform plans in 2021. Those plans were ordered by former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

Carolyn Peabody, of Orient, who serves on Suffolk County’s Human Rights Commission, said body cameras are a “critical” part of police oversight.

“It’s ‘he said, she said,’ but now you have a third eye that can be there,” she said.

Peabody said it’s important to make sure departments follow through with sound policies that govern when cameras must be turned on.

“There has to be accountability to make sure that officers use this really important technology,” she said.

Riverhead Supervisor Tim Hubbard said the grant lifts a financial burden.

“The big expense is keeping this evidence protected in the cloud,” he said.

Hubbard, a retired town police detective, said he supports the camera system.

“If you’re doing your job right as a police officer, a body camera is only going to help you,” he said.

With Joe Werkmeister

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

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