Registered Agency Profile: Hartford Police Department

hartford-logoRegistered Agency Profile: Hartford Police Department

Agency Donation Effort Contact: Officer Tyler Sleep

Police Chief: Chief Tressa Beltran

Link: Facebook Page

Number of Officers: 5 full-time; 3 part-time

Body Camera Goal: 8

Registration Statement: Hartford is a small west Michigan City in between Benton Harber and Kalamazoo Michigan with a population of about 2,600.  We have been a Police Department since 1877 and currently have five full-time Officers and usually have three part-timer Officers.  We are a town that has a race track, which brings in a large population in the summer.  On top of that we have a large Hispanic and Native American population.  In recent years, a casino was built about one mile East of our city limits.

Why has your department decided to start a body camera program?
Office Sleep: The City of Hartford has never had any type of recording device.  Not in the patrol cars, and not on our Officers.  With the way things have been going, we would like to be able maintain the integrity of our calls and have something we can fall back on if there is an issue/complaint either with an individual or an officer.

How do you believe a body camera program will benefit your officers, department and the community?
Office Sleep: I believe that when the community knows we are now recording it will modernize the department and people will be less likely to treat the officers poorly.  In the same respect, the cameras will keep the Hartford Officers interactions professional and courteous.  It will eliminate the “he said she said”.

Are there any situations where having body camera video evidence would have made a difference in court cases or complaints against your officers?
Officer Sleep: I believe that it would have.  Being a town where only one officer is on at a time, there is a lot for one officer to remember and assess.  Not everything can be absorbed or noticed. People tend to know there is only one officer and tend to do things they wouldn’t if there were more or cameras.

Does your department have guidelines for a body camera policy? If so, what would the policy be? When would officers be required to record, etc.?
Officer Sleep: As far as I know, currently, there are not guidelines for cameras due to the fact we have never had any.  I think a good policy would be to turn the camera on whenever we are stepping out of the vehicle to a complaint.  Likewise, if we are at the office, and an individual walks in to make a complaint we should record that interaction as well.  This would also be the case with assists.  If it were possible, maybe even turn them on while responding to sort of act as a dash cam.