City Council: Police Body Cams and Drone, Water/Sewer Rates

 by Tom MarinoApril 26, 2022

WORCESTER - The Worcester City Council meets on Tuesday, April 25, with a stacked agenda of i.

There are multiple items related to body worn cameras for the Worcester Police Department and the Police Department's request for a drone. There is also an item that shows the likely increases in water and sewer service costs for Worcester residents and District 5 city council Etel Haxhiaj is seeking information on residency requirements for city employees.

Also on the agenda is an item related to renovating or replacing Burncoat High School. See that story here.

City Council meets at 6:30 PM in the Esther Howland Chamber at City Hall. Those who wish to take part can use the following information to connect to the meeting virtually:

Virtual Attendee Call-In Information:

  • City Council Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/91727574825
  • City Council Zoom Phone Number: (929) 205 6099
  • City Council Zoom Access Code: 917 2757 4825

Police Body Camera Costs, Policy

Mayor Joe Petty has two orders related to body worn cameras for the Worcester Police Department.

In the first order, Petty requests a report on the cost of supplying cell phones to police officers as part of the body worn camera program.

Cell phones for officers are being considered as camera features and are accessible to officers through a mobile app. If officers use the app with their personal phone, the phone would become subject to public records laws, making personal correspondence subject to public release.

Petty's second order requests a report concerning the Worcester Police Department policy for body worn cameras.

Petty will also introduce a resolution for the City Council to approve the potential scheduled provided by Worcester Police Chief Steven Sargent. That schedule has the execution of the contract for the camera and related services in May, with equipment delivered in June. The department will conduct training in July and August for implementation of 300 cameras in September. Each member of the WPD will undergo 16 hours of training.

The total cost for 300 cameras, associated services including data storage and tasers is $3.9 million.

According to a report by Sargent, the department's line of 130 tasers is aging and in need of an upgrade. If purchased from Axon, the same vendor as the body cameras, their technology forces all body cameras within an area to automatically record when a taser or firearm is removed from its holster.

Councilor Seeks Delay in Drone Implementation

The Worcester Police Department seeks to purchase an unmanned aircraft system for use in search and rescue operations, motor vehicle crash investigations, crash scene mapping, and similar uses.

According to a report by Chief Sargent, the cost of the system is estimated to be $25,000.

Mayor Petty has an order on Tuesday requesting a report from City Solicitor Michael Traynor on state and federal policies concerning drone surveillance.

Councilor-at-large Thu Nguyen also has an order on the agenda to request the City Manager to "...not approve the proposal for an Unmanned Aircraft System and prohibit usage of the this technology until a comprehensive and civil liberties focused policy regulating the use of it is submitted to the City Manager, City Council and the general public."

Water and Sewer Rate Increases

According to a report from Jay Fink, Commissioner of the Department of Public Works and Parks, the city requires a slight increase in the cost of water and sewer utilities. Fink recommends a water rate of $3.68 per hundred cubic feet (CCF). This one cent increase is the first increase in five years.

Fink suggests a sewer rate of $8.65 per CCF, an increase of 17 cents, or 2%.

Fink says the total increase for the average single family home will be $9.05 per year, an increase of about 1.4%. The projected costs are based on average use of 62 CCFs.

Residency Requirements for Cabinet, City Manager

District 5 Councilor Etel Haxhiaj has a pair of items focused on City Hall residency requirements on Tuesday's agenda.

In the first, Haxhiaj has an order requesting a report from the city manager delineating the city's current policy for residency requirements for cabinet, staff, and city employees. The order notes that the request is, "In light of hiring goals and targets the city currently attaches to its TIFs and municipal construction projects."

Haxhiaj also has a resolution submitted asking the City Council to re-affirm its commitment to attaching a residency requirement to the upcoming search for a new City Manager.

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