WORCESTER, Mass. — The Worcester Police Department launched a body camera pilot program Wednesday.
The department says the cameras will protect the officers and the people they come into contact with.
"It does do a very good of capturing what's in front of it, and it also is audio recorded so you hear the audio as well," said Worcester Police Lt. Sean Murtha.
Lt. Murtha showed Boston 25 News the cameras Wednesday. For the next six months, police will wear 20 body cameras out on the streets to record arrests, traffic stops, and interactions with the public.
"I think there's a lot of ways they can be helpful. It has transparency. It can enhance public confidence in the department. They can be used to resolve complaints quickly," said Murtha.
Boston Police launched its own body camera pilot program in 2017 with 100 cameras for 281 officers across the city. Last summer, researchers at Northeastern University studied the results and found "small, but meaningful benefits" including "fewer complaints" and "fewer force" reports.
The city had planned to make body cameras a permanent fixture, but as of this story, no Boston Police officers are using them.
In fact, Boston 25 News contacted more than 200 police departments across Mass. and found only a handful of small towns use officer body cameras, including Lakeville, Methuen, West Brookfield, and Sherborn.
Michael Franklin is a criminal defense attorney in Worcester. He says most police departments will cite cost as a reason not to use cameras, even though the technology seems to be everywhere now.
"It's a big deal because now we're going to have transparency," Franklin said. "People have cameras on their phones, in their computers, in their cars, so why not the police? It seems like it's about time."
Most people we spoke with agree and said the cameras make them feel safer.
"Because everything is being recorded, so it's never what I say against what someone else says," said Asher Abrahams.
Boston 25 News reached out to the Worcester County District Attorney's Office because introducing this video evidence could impact the way they prosecute cases. A spokesperson told us, "We are taking a wait-and-see approach. We’re as curious as anyone to see how it turns out."
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