The police department has requested $9,000 to purchase five body cameras in the upcoming budget year.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Program is offering 50 percent matching funds, which would reduce the cost to the town by $5,000.
The department will then look to purchase five body-worn cameras compatible with Watchguard Evidence Library. The GHSP grants funds to offset the cost of five cameras for the traffic safety unit and to help offset the cost of storage upgrades.
“Current in-car camera systems do a great job of capturing video from the vantage point of the vehicle and work well for the recording events related to driving roadway arrests, and interaction with drivers in front of the police vehicle,” the justification statement says. “Body-worn cameras supplement this with video and audio from the officers perspective for other circumstances.”
Council members seemed supportive of the request. Most of their questions and comments centered around how the police department would use the cameras and what kinds of information would be public and what would be kept out of public view.
“I thought it was really one of the better philosophical conversations we’ve had in quite a while about police matters, Chief Brandon Zuidema said. “I appreciate their willingness to keep their decision-making process at that high level and listen to our recommendations as professionals in the field.”
None of the council members voiced opposition to the request.
Chris Clayton, a spokesman for the department, said purchases wouldn’t be made until after the budget is approved, if it is approved and after they have a policy in place which governs how to use the cameras.
The department has been testing a couple of different models.
Clayton said the department won’t purchase cameras for all of its officers initially. He said they will wait a while for a couple of reasons.
“Storage expense for data and just the evolution of the technology,” he said. “We’re making sure what we want to get is a good product.”
Having a camera on every officer could cost between $65,000 and $70,000, plus annual maintenance costs.