Body cameras lead Bristol to update police policies

BRISTOL — Bristol Police Chief Kevin Gibbs on Monday updated the Bristol selectboard on his department’s policies, most notably changes in its Video/Audio/Still Recording Equipment Policy that were triggered by the department’s purchase of body cameras.
Town Administrator Therese Kirby said the previous policy was so outdated that it “used to refer to tapes.” The updated policy spells out how the digital footage and audio captured by the body cameras is stored, how it may be accessed, and who may access the material.
The department, Kirby said, has a contract with Evidence.com, and material collected by the cameras is uploaded to that company’s servers.
The department’s officers, she said, will routinely turn on the cameras when they are interacting with the public, with the goal of protecting officers and citizens alike.
Exceptions will be made during sensitive situations involving members of the public. 
“There are certain circumstances for privacy’s sake they are not running,” Kirby said.
On Monday, Gibbs also outlined changes to the department’s Use of Force and Social Media policies.
The most significant change to the Use of Force policy, Kirby said, was the addition of language to make it conform to a new state policy on the use of Tasers.
“They had to address the change within the state of Vermont policy,” she said, adding there were also other “small administrative changes.”
As for the Social Media Policy, Kirby said a couple of small alterations were necessary to make it conform to the changes in the Video/Audio/Still Recording Equipment Policy.
“There were some small language changes just in one small section,” she said.
In other business on Monday, the Bristol selectboard:
•  Held a required public hearing on an application for a $25,000 planning grant to support efforts to develop 38 acres of town-owned land between Lovers Lane and West Street.
•  Agreed to allow the upcoming Three-Day Stampede to dump two roll-off trash receptacles at no charge into the town landfill.
•  Awarded a contract to Case Street Redi-Mix Inc. for sidewalk work in the village. Kirby said work will be done in a half-dozen locations.
•  Agreed with the road foreman that stretches of Burpee Road (between Route 116 and Plank Road) and South Street (between the bridge near the village and Hewitt Road) should be paved this summer.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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