Keene Police Chief Steve Russo said his department could need close to $400,000 to implement the body and cruiser cameras they are testing this month.
The Keene Police Department starts a camera trial on Tuesday, with six field officers and three cruisers using the cameras.
The move comes in response to a city council recommendation that the department start using the gear. Russo said that while body cameras can be effective for police work and to make the job more transparent for the public, he is concerned about the price.
“As a taxpayer, I have a problem with the cost,” Russo said. “Not taking a stand on this. It’s hard to say body cameras are not a good thing.”
Russo said part of the cost will include hiring a full-time employee to serve as the camera system administrator and to handle evidence requirements for defense attorneys and prosecutors, as well as Right to Know requests.
“There’s a lot of things that go with it,” Russo said.
The total will be around $380,000 over five years, depending on the set up and financing options, Russo said.
Some departments in New Hampshire that have adopted body cameras use police supervisors to administer the technology and information, but Russo said that is not a good use of a police officer’s time, and would be more expensive than hiring a civilian to fill that role.
John Scippa, the executive director of the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council, said his agency does not recommend cameras for all departments because of the high cost.
“We don’t take a formal position on that,” Scippa said. “It’s a tremendous financial undertaking.”
Every community in New Hampshire is different, and all have different resources to bring to the table, Scippa said. A state-wide body camera requirement could put a strain on some municipal budgets, he said.
Once the 30-day trial on body cameras is done, Russo will present a plan to the city council regarding the camera system.