By GERARD NOLAN
The Eastchester Police Department’s fleet has been equipped with a new in-car video recording system thanks to a donation from a local charity.
The video system activates when a car’s lights and sirens are turned on, recording audio and video. The digital system retroactively records a minute of footage before it is activated so violations and accidents can be captured.
The Lanza Family Foundation donated $83,000 to the department for the system, which was manufactured by L-3 Communications Mobile Video Inc. The new system replaces an outdated version.
“It’s a really good for safety and for training purposes,” said Police Chief Timothy Bonci. “The sergeants can review traffic stops that their officers are doing and make sure they’re doing them correctly.”
The system will also be used to provide evidence during court cases, the chief said. If someone complains that an officer wasn’t professional during a traffic stop, supervisors can refer to the video and make a determination.
Most departments in Westchester have similar systems, but the Eastchester system is state-of-the-art. It will automatically upload video wirelessly from each car. The old method entailed painstakingly removing and backing up hard drives from each vehicle.
“It’s very easy to access the video,” the chief said. “The wireless functionality is really the most prominent difference.”
The new system comes equipped with a DVD burner, which can be used to produce DVDs to be entered as evidence during court proceedings.
Eastchester Town Councilman Fred Salanitro, a Republican, explained that the system will help make the justice system run more efficiently. Video evidence helps prosecutors “avoid the need for trials, thereby reducing some backlog and clogging of the court’s calendar.”
He said video evidence is among the best kinds of evidence.
“A picture’s worth a thousand words,” Salanitro said. “A video’s probably worth a lot more than a thousand words.”
Town and law enforcement officials said they were grateful to the Lanza Family Foundation for the five-figure donation.
The town recently presented a plaque to the foundation, thanking it for the donation. The department gave the family members a demonstration of the equipment.
“I want to express our gratitude and appreciation to the Lanza Family for this contribution of equipment, which will protect our officers, our residents and help the court system,” Republican Town Supervisor Anthony Colavita said.
When asked why the foundation chose to donate the system the chief said, “I think they just want to give back to the community.”
Bonci said the department would not have been able to purchase the video system without the donation.
“It would be very difficult for us to budget for this, especially in these difficult financial times,” he said.