In what New Canaan’s highest elected official is calling a sad statement on the way some motorists treat the town’s parking enforcement officers, the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday approved funds to purchase five body cameras that the workers soon will wear on the job.
Approved 2-0 by the selectmen, the acquisition follows the arrests of a New Canaan man last month after a threatening incident at the Parking Bureau, a Norwalk woman this month who made a scene downtown after being ticketed, and a still-active case now two years old that saw a Greenwich man use racial slurs in arguing with a parking enforcement officer at Morse Court.
“It is sad, really, that you have to do this,” First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said at the selectmen’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. “And these are folks trying to do their jobs.”
Mallozzi and Selectman Beth Jones voted in favor of a $3,643 contract with Kansas-based Digital Ally to purchase the devices. Selectman Nick Williams was not in attendance. The company already supplies the New Canaan Police Department, according to Cheryl Pickering-Jones, the town’s human resources director.
“The parking department has had some issues that have involved the police department where some our [parking enforcement] officers were approached in a way that they were not comfortable, called for protection and ended up in individuals being arrested,” Pickering-Jones said. “So in speaking with our [New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski], he felt the next step would be body cameras.”
Jones noted that that cameras would protect Karen Miller, superintendent of the Parking Bureau, and her enforcement officers “more than it protects anybody else.”
The selectmen asked Pickering-Jones and Miller whether the body cameras were the same as those used by New Canaan police (yes), whether NCPD is happy with the model (yes), whether a set of policies and procedures on use now being drafted will be in place by the time the devices are ready to wear (yes) and whether there’s money in the parking bureau’s budget to acquire the cameras (yes, as New Canaan Finance Director Dawn Norton was able to act quickly and capture the spend in the current fiscal year’s budget).
Miller said: “I think given the incidents that we have had, and also the fact that we deal with a sizeable amount of money, it makes sense to take this on.”
Noting that the police have had a positive experience with using body cameras, Miller added, “I don’t see a downside.”