Fishkill, Middletown and Deerpark police awarded $900,000 for cameras and technology

Fishkill Police do not carry body cameras.

Although several agencies have adopted the tool in recent years, city supervisor Ozzy Albra said Fishkill hasn’t prioritized their integration because the technology is expensive and the department is involved in relatively little. violent interactions.

“But two years and two months into my tenure as supervisor, there was a shooting,” he said.

On February 27, Fishkill police responded to a reported domestic dispute and shot at least one resident.

Although the two shot residents survived, the incident is being considered by a Dutchess County grand jury. Several details have yet to be revealed; while state police said Fishkill police shot and killed a man, Michael Becerril, they did not say who shot the woman with him.

“If we had these body cameras, we would know exactly what happened, and there would be no ambiguity,” Albra said.

Going forward, Fishkill and at least two other Hudson Valley agencies will have an additional tool at their disposal.

The federal government is giving $900,000 to the departments of Fishkill, Middletown and Deerpark to purchase cameras and other technology.

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“The point is, we have (police-related) reforms to do and there are things we can do,” Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, said during a roundtable announcing the funding Monday. “One of the most exciting developments…is that law enforcement and those who advocate for law enforcement reform agree that body cameras are one of the best technologies we can invest in. .”

Maloney was joined by Albra, Middletown Mayor Joe Destefano, Middletown Police Chief John Ewanciw and Deerpark Police Chief Richard Sztyndor at Middletown City Hall.

In the coming weeks, Fishkill will receive federal funding of $600,000 for body cameras and appropriate video storage technology. The Deerpark Police Department will also receive federal funding — $30,000 — for body cameras and video storage technology.

“We all think we should know what happened,” Maloney said of the interactions between police and pedestrians. “If good agents are doing it right, we want to know. If there’s fault, we want to know too.

The Middletown City Police Department, which already uses body cameras, is also expected to receive $300,000, which will be used to provide additional security cameras and license plate readers throughout the city. This technology, Ewanciw said, will be an important tool used by Middletown police to investigate crimes and locate suspects.

Fishkill Town Supervisor Ozzy Albra speaks during a press conference at Middletown Town Hall on May 2, 2022.

Maloney said he believes the addition of body cameras in Fishkill, Deerpark and other municipalities would not only shed light on shootings such as the Feb. 27 incident, but also expose police misconduct and exonerate officers falsely accused of misconduct.

The three officers involved in the Fishkill shooting at the Views at Rocky Glen apartment complex off Highway 52, Sgt. Gerald Cocozza and officers Joseph DiPalma and John Hurtado are on administrative leave, Albra said.

Police said the suspect, Becerril, 29, had a knife and refused a police order to drop it. Fishkill officers used a stun gun in an attempt to arrest Becerril, but it was ineffective, state police said. Fishkill police then shot Becerril during a scuffle in which he grabbed one of the officers’ firearms, according to state police.

The woman was shot as she tried to intervene, according to state police, who first said she was shot by Fishkill police. A state police spokesperson later backtracked on that statement and said the investigation was still ongoing.

The Views at Rocky Glen resort in Fishkill was the scene of a police shooting on February 27.

Of the cameras in general, Maloney said, “We want more evidence of what happened, and we’re not afraid of that evidence.”

He added that officers wearing body cameras will be encouraged to perform on their best behavior.

“If you walk into a vehicle, you’re going to be aware not only of the usual considerations, but also that you’re going to be held accountable for how you act,” he said.

Erin Nolan is an investigative reporter for the USA TODAY Network’s Hudson Valley Region. Contact her at [email protected]

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