My husband and I are happy to live in a community with an amazing grassroots effort that is working on multiple fronts to call out and defeat bias and racism in our Town. ABAR Suffield (“anti-bias, anti-racism”) is growing in strength and numbers.
Recently, ABAR, along with supporters of Suffield police officers, successfully persuaded the Suffield Board of Finance (BOF) to provide proper funding for police body cameras. Body cameras protect both citizens and police, and are now required per the new Police Accountability law, a 2020 state law that is thus far successfully resisting furious attempts to weaken it. At the prior BOF meeting, the BOF had approved body camera funding contingent upon a 30% reimbursement from the state, but such contingencies are not possible per grant instructions and would have ultimately resulted in no funding of body cameras by the Town (and would have threatened our police department’s accreditation). Thankfully, ABAR and others were watching closely, and the problematic contingency element was removed.
Suffield missed an opportunity for 100% reimbursement for body cameras that ended in December 2019, part of a $7 million state grant program. This poor planning means that Suffield taxpayers are now going to, at best, pay 70% of the cost.
State-dictated police reform, like requiring body cameras, may be the most efficient way to improve both morale and functionality of the Suffield PD, which suffers from numerous and serious deficiencies as documented in the October 2019 Suffield Police Department Management Operational Study.
Annie and Neil Hornish
Editor’s Note: Response from SPD Chief Brown: The 2019 grant was contemplated by various boards and commissions, and it was determined that the Suffield Police Department was not a qualified candidate and that the grant would not have met the needs of the Department and town.