BRUSLY — The Town Council on Monday night unanimously approved more than $7,000 in equipment purchases for the Police Department, which includes eight body cameras that soon will be worn by every police officer while on duty.
Interim Police Chief Richie Johnson told council members that purchasing the standalone body cameras is a cheaper alternative to outfitting every police vehicle with dash cameras.
“It would cost you $5,000 to $6,000 a pop for the dash cameras — and we used to have them, but they weren’t maintained,” Johnson told the council. “These offer more versatility, and they’re not as limiting.”
The town is spending $3,236 on the eight body cameras from Taser International.
Officers will be able to clip the cameras to their shirts or belts. The tiny cameras have 12-hour battery lives and 130-degree lenses that capture a wide vantage point.
An officer would have to activate the camera’s recording features, which Johnson previously said backtracks at least 30 seconds to capture the actions leading up to any incident.
Recorded footage is then downloaded daily and will be stored on the Police Department’s computer for future reference.
Johnson said the town should receive the cameras in about two weeks.
The Town Council likely will need to amend the Police Department’s policy manual to mandate officers actually use the cameras during police stops.
“That was my concern when you first presented the idea,” Mayor Pro Tem Scot Rhodes told Johnson. “If we don’t have a policy in place … what’s the use in having them?”
Johnson said it will probably take officers about two months to get used to having the body cameras and activating them. But he assured council members that activating the body cameras during every call will get as routine as officers fastening their seat belts every time they drive.
“It’s up to the citizens and the council to hold their feet to the fire about using them,” Johnson said.
The council also approved spending an additional $3,829 to buy eight new 12-gauge shotguns for the Police Department.
Johnson said the new shotguns will replace the department’s current inventory of shotguns, which have varying gauges and features.
“Nothing is uniform; it’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen,” Johnson said. “You need to be able to grab the next person’s weapon and have it feel the same and be the same as yours.”
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