Athol Police to begin using body cams

  • Athol Police Sgt. Jarret Mousseau (left) and Chief Craig Lundgren met with the Selectboard to announce that the department is being provided with body-mounted cameras. Officer could be wearing them as soon as Monday, May 22. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 5/18/2023 4:16:47 PM
Modified: 5/18/2023 4:16:40 PM

ATHOL – Police officers in Athol will soon be outfitted with a new piece of equipment—an item which Chief Craig Lundgren said he was initially skeptical of, but now sees as indispensable.

Starting Monday, each officer will be equipped with a body camera. Lundgren said at Tuesday’s Selectboard meeting that acquisition of the body cams is something the department has been working on for some time now.

“We had the opportunity to apply for a grant for body-worn cameras, cameras that officers wear and record interactions with the public,” Lundgren explained. “I received an email from our town manager suggesting this is something we might want to look into.”

The chief met with Town Manager Shaun Suhoski to review the matter further. Lundgren felt that if the state is going to pay for the equipment, then in the future this will be required of every police officer throughout the country.

As a result of the discussion between Lundgren and Suhoski, it was decided the department would apply for a grant through the Executive Office of Public Safety. Lundgren said that state Sen. Jo Comerford and state Rep. Susannah Whipps each pledged to support it. The chief received help with writing the grant application from Sgt. Jarrett Mousseau and administrative assistant Amanda Carey. A short time later, he learned the department had been approved for just under $31,000.

“We have the cameras in. We’re ready to deploy,” said Lundgren. “We had a training period so we could test out and make sure the officers knew exactly what was required of them. So, we’re ready to go.”

“The officers have been great,” Mousseau told the board. “They’re actually excited. We haven’t had any issues so far.”

Mousseau said the cameras are always recording for 30-second intervals, though just video for the time being. He said the camera records for 30 seconds, then writes over itself—then another 30 seconds and writes over itself.

“We’ve already had one instance where an officer was ready to get out (of the cruiser) and the car took off and they were just turning their camera on—it’s just two pushes on a front button,” Mousseau said. “Well, it caught everything before that; there’s no audio but it caught everything. So, it’s already been working very, very well.

“We’ve had a couple of OUI arrests and it’s nice to be able to sit and watch the video while you’re writing your report. It’s just been phenomenal for them.”

Lundgren told the board that, unlike other communities where police unions have balked at employing the cameras, a meeting with the department’s sergeants and patrol officers showed that they were fully supportive.

“It protects them. It protects them because we do at times get complaints about an officer which can’t be verified, when the officer knows he did nothing wrong,” said the chief. “Well, this is verifiable information. It also protects every citizen that the officers encounter; they can make a public records request and watch the video. And it’s going to help in court, too. There’s nothing better than to go before a jury on a case and show them a video of what actually happened.”

Lundgren added that these cameras have been a long time coming. He said he’s been hesitant, but after seeing them tested by the State Police, decided to pursue them for Athol.

“I’m really happy we have the support of all our patrolmen and sergeants,” the chief said. “That was a big step.”

Greg Vine can be reached at

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