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WINSTED — After some discussion, the Board of Selectmen approved the purchase of body cameras and dash cameras for the Winchester Police Department at the board’s regular meeting on Monday, Aug. 2.
Because of the state’s Police Accountability Act that passed last year, all police departments in the state are required to have body cameras for their officers by next July.
Police Chief William Fitzgerald and Officer Joshua Blass spoke to the board about their research in determining a body camera and dash-camera system to purchase.
Chief Fitzgerald said that the department decided to go with a system from Axon of Scottsdale, Arizona.
According to documents from the meeting, the department will be purchasing 25 body cameras, 18 car fleet cameras, along nine in-car routers.
The body cameras will be replaced by the company for free every two-and-a-half years.
The total cost of the complete package is $41,786.99.
However, a state grant will be paying for half of the cost, leaving the town to pay for the rest of the cost, along with its first-year service cost with the company, for a total of $33,853.05.
Chief Fitzgerald said that 46 other police departments across the state use Axon’s services.
“The company’s hardware outperformed all of the other models we reviewed,” Chief Fitzgerald told the board. “The dash cams also have license plate reader capabilities. We currently only have two license plate readers that we have to pay $5,000 a year to maintain.”
“What is important is picture quality,” Officer Blass said. “These cameras are 1080p [also known as High Definition Resolution]. If we want to know why an officer did what he did, that little bit of pixel or blur makes a whole lot of difference when it comes to a lawsuit, excessive use of force incident, or if the officer used a reasonable amount of force. These cameras also include live streaming, which the chief and sergeant can actively view and record when an officer is on a call.”
Plan of Conservation and Development hearing scheduled
A public hearing on the proposed Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) for the town is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 23 at 7 p.m.
According to a press release issued by the town, the POCD establishes “a vision and common goals for the community’s future and identifies action steps that, when implemented, will help attain that vision. If steadily implemented by Winchester residents and officials, the plan will help protect important resources, guide appropriate development, protect community character, and enhance the quality of life for current and future Winchester residents.”
Under state statute, it is required to be revisited and readopted by all municipalities every 10 years.
Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman George Closson spoke to the board about the proposed POCD during the selectmen’s meeting.
“While the commission is responsible for putting this together, we can only put it together with input from the community who have a desire to participate,” Closson said. “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are behind schedule. But we did notify Hartford to not jeopardize any grant funding.
In the draft POCD, there are chapters including “Community Views and Vision” along with a “Green Print for Winchester.”
“A major thing we are looking at in the draft is the protection of the watershed,” Closson said. “We have a fantastic water supply for our community, including Highland Lake, and Winchester Lake. The streams and rivers should all be critically paid attention to in regards to land use and development. We have had a growth of our grand list, but our outlying rural areas have experienced their largest growth in the last 10 years. It’s an important issue and it needs to be protected.”
To view the draft POCD click here.

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