Boston Police officials say a police officer involved in a recent confrontation had been part of the department’s body camera pilot program but hadn’t been wearing a body camera at the time of the incident because the program had already ended.
The disclosure came during a City Council hearing Monday on the results so far of the BPD’s year-long test program, in which about 100 officers wore the cameras while on duty.
City Councilor Lydia Edwards, who represents East Boston and Charlestown, asked BPD Deputy Superintendent John Daley about a recent incident, captured on cell phone video, in which a white police officer later identified officer Zachary Crossen is seen stopping a black pedestrian and asking him various questions including what he does for work.
“I’m assuming he’s not part of this?” Edwards asked Daley, referring to the body camera program which is meant, in part, to provide objective records of such confrontations.
“Actually, he was part of the body camera pilot,” Daley answered. “But he was not wearing a body camera, the pilot had ended by that point."
Edwards, surprised, asked: “So he was part of the pilot, the pilot program had ended by the time he had done this, and someone else caught him on their cell phone?”
“Yes,” Daley answered.
After the hearing, Edwards told WGBH News that the answer had caught her completely by surprise.
“It really solidified for me why we need the body cams,” Edwards said.
Overall, the hearing marked a noticeable if not overt shift in the tone with which the administration of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has taken up the issue of police body cameras.
Neither Walsh nor Police Commissioner Bill Evans has committed to expanding the program or not; but Evans struck numerous positive notes Monday in describing his department’s experience with the pilot program, and came ready to address some of the nitty gritty details, including costs, that would be involved in wider implementation of body cameras.
City Council President Andrea Campbell, who has been a leader on the Council in pushing for hearings and citizen input, and who supports body camera implementation, told WGBH News that she was encouraged by the police officials’ testimony, as well as supportive comments by many Council members.
“I think overall it was positive,” Campbell said. “I think at this point my colleagues and I are looking forward to the plan around how we outfit our officers with body-worn cameras.”