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Body cameras coming to city schools 

click to enlarge A body camera on a Rochester police officer - PHOTO BY CHRISTINE CARRIE FIEN
  • PHOTO BY CHRISTINE CARRIE FIEN
  • A body camera on a Rochester police officer
Rochester police officers stationed in the city school district will start wearing body cameras. The officers, known as school resource officers, will be issued cameras and go through training on various days from February 20 to February 24.

No date has been set yet for officers to start wearing cameras on duty.

The police department’s body camera program started last summer. The cameras, which look like small stereo speakers, were rolled out in phases and all five patrol sections should by fully equipped by February 5, the department says.

The Rochester school district employed 12 resource officers as of August 2016, all at the secondary level. They wear their police uniforms and they are armed.

The resource officers resolve disputes and make arrests, but they also try to be proactive by serving as positive role models for the students and providing instruction on issues such as gang awareness.

Rochester school board President Van White says that he didn’t know that resource offices would be getting cameras.

He understands the benefit the cameras have out in the broader community, he says. “But this is in the context of the school and I haven’t thought about the implications of that. It’s a different environment. There are other concerns about privacy and so forth," White says.

Rochester Police Chief Mike Ciminelli says that he’s discussed the program with schools Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams and her predecessor, former superintendent Bolgen Vargas.

“We recognize there may be additional sensitivities with the use of body-worn cameras in schools,” says a statement from the police department. “We are continuing to work cooperatively with RCSD to review this and as the program progresses, we will make adjustments as needed.”

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