Rochester City Council kicks-off a series of public meetings tomorrow on the pending police body-camera program. Meetings will be held throughout November and one on December 3. The first meeting, on Thursday, November 12, will be held in City Council Chambers at City Hall, 30 Church Street.
The city hopes to phase in the camera program this fiscal year, which ends in June, 2016.
The meetings will begin with a status update on the program. And then people will break up into tabletop work sessions, and will be asked to consider: When will the cameras be on and off? Can citizens opt out of being recorded? Who can see the footage? And how long will the footage be saved?
There will also be a display of different kinds of body cameras.
Citizens' input will be used in drawing up the policies governing the use of the cameras, city officials say. But those policies have to be negotiated with the police union, too.
Mike Mazzeo, president of the Locust Club, says that there are advantages to body cameras, but a lot of questions, too. People have to understand, he says, that they're not a magic bullet.
"You really have to get this right," he says. "And there's really a lot involved."
A local activist group, the Rochester Coalition for Police Reform, has released its own policy recommendations for the cameras, covering camera use, data retention, public access, oversight, and other areas.
Subsequent public meetings are Monday, November 16, at the Ryan Community Center, 530 Webster Avenue; Monday, November 23, Edgerton Recreation Center, 41 Backus Street; Monday, November 30, Danforth Community Center, 200 West Avenue; and Thursday, December 3, Gantt Community Center, 700 North Street.
All of the sessions start at 6 p.m.