A Brunswick police patrol car. The department recently installed cruiser cams in all the marked patrol vehicles, three years after they were approved by the council. Times Record file photo

BRUNSWICK — The Brunswick Police Department recently installed cruiser cameras in all patrol vehicles, and town officials hope to restart conversations about the possibility of police body cameras later this year.

The council approved the cruiser cameras in May 2017 as part of the Capital Improvement Program. 

According to the resolution, the roughly $80,000 project includes an in-cruiser digital video system for the marked cruisers and the marine resources vehicle. The footage is uploaded wirelessly from the vehicle to evidence storage with no officer handling. The system will gather video and audio evidence in traffic stops and any other incidents that “fall within the scope of the video camera in the cruiser and microphone in the cruiser and worn by the officer.” The project also included “cruiser-based portable radio repeaters” to improve the transmission to the communications center. A part-time position was converted to full time to catalog all the video footage, among other responsibilities.

Scott Stewart, who started as Brunswick’s new police chief in July, announced this week that the cameras are finally installed and running well. 

The installation of the cruiser cameras opens up avenues to again discuss requiring body cameras, something that councilors, in a resolution passed earlier this summer, said should be required by all officers in Maine. 

According to Town Manager John Eldridge there are still hurdles to get over with body cameras, such as pricing and video storage, but officials welcome the discussion once the police department is comfortable with using the new video system.


“We hope to have a recommendation to the town council later this year,” Eldridge said in Monday’s manager’s report.

According to Stewart, “any advancement in technology or anything that would enhance how we would do our job is worth considering.”

“We want better documentation of our interaction with the public and with the crimes that we investigate and anything related to interaction with the police,” he said. “The way I see it, not only does it protect individuals, it protects the officers and takes a lot of the ‘he said she said’ out of the equation.” 

Cruiser and body cameras each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

In the cruisers, the cameras will turn on when the vehicle’s blue flashers are lit and capture video from the front of the vehicle. The police officers’ microphones capture the audio and have a pretty significant range, but cruiser cameras cannot record inside buildings or vehicles. 

Body cameras, on the other hand, are on virtually all the time and require far more storage and cataloging — one of the biggest obstacles to their use, Stewart said, adding that while they can be used inside they only capture what is directly in front of an officer and won’t factor in something like a head turn.


In June, following weeks of national and local protests surrounding racism and police brutality, Brunswick town councilors approved a statement condemning the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

The statement expressed the council’s position against racism in and beyond the community, but acknowledged that simply condemning the murders “is not enough.” 

“As public servants we have an even greater responsibility to speak out against racism, discrimination, bias, and hatred because when the unacceptable becomes the norm in our society, human rights for all are threatened,” according to the statement, drafted by John Perreault, council chair, and Jim Mason, vice chair. “We must commit ourselves to working on ways in which we can engage our communities to address and uproot institutionalized racism and implicit bias and offer spaces for dialogue, trainings, and understanding.”

With the statement, the council also voiced support for The Black Lives Matter movement and five statewide and local policy recommendations: police departments must treat all allegations of officer misconduct seriously and with both accountability and transparency; the state should maintain a public database of complaints against officers; police departments should terminate officers with a history of excessive force and racial insensitivity; the state should must mandate training and continuing education surrounding racism, implicit bias and use of force and every police officer in Maine should be required to wear a body camera that cannot be turned off at the officer’s discretion. 

These changes, according to the statement, represent “the bare minimum of what is required to maintain the public’s trust in law enforcement.” 

Three months later, the work continues. 

The police have completed multiple bias and de-escalation trainings, put five officers in civil rights investigation training and formed a crisis negotiation team, Stewart said. He has also been working with Eldridge and the council on how to proceed with further municipal training and any potential committee work, but that it’s still too early in the process to say what will happen.

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