Council Approves Body Cameras, Assessment

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Photo Source: https://www.axon.io.
Photo Source: https://www.axon.io.

On Monday, August 22, Milford City Council approved the purchase of police body cameras upon the recommendation of the Police Committee. Councilman Jamie Burk, who chairs the Police Committee, said that the committee felt that body cameras were becoming increasingly important in law enforcement.

“They are more important than ever,” said Police Chief Kenneth Brown. “I cannot stress enough how these cameras can help. The shooting in Milwaukee, had there not been a police body camera, there would still be chaos there. They are necessary today, but they are not cheap.” Chief Brown said that he had investigated different brands of the cameras and found that most police agencies in the area favored the Taser brand. Chief Brown said that New Castle County used the brand in a pilot program and decided to purchase them before the pilot program ended.

The cost for the first year, which includes 25 body cameras and ten car cameras as well as access to Evidence.com, an online storage service, is $44,683. In addition, the cost for keeping the cameras operating in years two through five was $25,230 per year. Chief Brown said that he felt he could get grant money to cover the cost of the first year, so he was asking council to commit to paying for the additional years.

Chief Brown said that the cameras are turned on as soon as the police car is turned on. He also said that because all footage was stored in the cloud, there was no need for additional storage space on City servers. Councilman Burk commented that the cost of the new cameras could be recovered in the time the department currently spends on burning disks. Training is included with the cost of the cameras. Chief Brown also said that the contract would have an opt-out clause so the City could cancel at any time, but that cancellation would cost them access to Evidence.com. Council voted unanimously to commit to the $25,000 annual fee pending a negotiated contract with Taser.

In other police news, the Police Committee discussed the cost of  a study authorized by council in the budget to review police personnel. The study will determine if the city has enough officers and if they are distributed properly as far as rank and duties. An estimate was provided from a survey company of $95,000 to conduct the study.

“A similar study was done in 2011 by Redstone Architects,” Councilman Burk said. “I called them and asked what their charge would be to come back and do another survey along the same lines. They quoted me a cost of $7,500, a price that was $87,500 less than the other company. I was not part of the police committee when this survey was done previously, but when I looked at what other cities were doing, it seemed that Redstone could provide us with all the information we needed and we could save the city almost $90,000 in the process.”

Council voted unanimously to accept the Police Committee recommendation to contract with Redstone Architects for an updated police survey.

A request from St. John’s Catholic Church to allow alcohol at their annual Oktoberfest as well as a request from DMI to allow alcohol at Eat in the Street was also approved with Councilman James Starling casting the only dissenting vote. A city ordinance raising the price of for-profit rental fees for those who wish to use City parks and buildings was also approved. In addition, permits will now be issued so that there are no conflicts among renters for City parks and buildings.

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