- Associated Press - Friday, February 6, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire safety officials say new proposals to equip all state police with body cameras don’t provide a way to pay for all of the costs of such a program.

One bill before the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee predicts it would cost roughly $210,000 to buy the cameras in fiscal year 2016 and about $225,000 annually to pay for a cloud-based server that would hold the footage. The bill also appropriates about $33,000 annually so the department can hire a part-time employee to process public information requests related to the footage.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Renny Cushing of Hampton, would add a $1 surcharge to all criminal and civil fines to be put in a fund for the cameras. That new surcharge would bring in about $106,000 annually, and Department of Safety officials say the department’s budget doesn’t have the money to make up the rest of the costs.

If the department is required to find money for the program within its existing budget, that could result in laying off workers, attorney David Hilts testified before the criminal justice committee this week. The program would rely on future legislatures appropriating enough money for repairs, maintenance and data shortage.

New Hampshire already has dashboard cameras in some cruisers and may be eligible for a federal grant to put cameras in more cruisers. The department is also beginning a body camera pilot program.

“New Hampshire would be better served by thoughtfully reviewing the long-term results of efforts in other jurisdictions, rather than to rush to employ this costly new technology immediately,” Hilts said.

The bill only affects state police and would not require local police departments to equip their officers with body cameras, although some departments already do so.

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