Body cams are getting to be standard equipment these days for police departments. They’ve been standard in police vehicles for a while.  Battle Creek City commissioners will consider a proposal to upgrade cams in police vehicles, and also add body cams for officers.   Battle Creek Police have been testing various body-worn camera systems over the last three years.

The cost is high, an average of $7000 each, but police say they are an extremely effective and much-needed tool.

A release from the city says the goal for the cameras is to protect both our community and its officers, giving the department the ability to provide real-time audio, video, location tracking, and more during our police response efforts.

“These cameras will allow us to accurately capture contacts between members of our department and the public,” said Deputy Police Chief Jim Grafton. “They can preserve an incident captured on video which may have evidentiary value; it allows officers and potential jurors to see a crime scene, and it protects the officers from unfounded complaints.

“It can also allow our department to see where we need to improve and implement training if needed, and it will hold our officers accountable. This is a valuable tool all around.”

This agreement will allow the BCPD to purchase a total of 65 body-worn cameras, and 40 in-car cameras. Patrol officers and sergeants will have body-worn cameras.

The BCPD has a policy in place for body-worn camera use. It indicates that officers should activate the cameras in the following situations:

  • All enforcement and investigative contacts, including stops and field interviews.
  • Traffic stops, including but not limited to, traffic violations, stranded motorist assistance, and all crime prevention stops.
  • Self-initiated activity in which an officer would normally notify Central Dispatch.
  • Any other contact that becomes adversarial after the initial contact, in a situation that would not otherwise be recorded.

The vendor chosen is Utility Associates Inc. of Decatur, GA.  They can provide the systems to meet both vehicle and body cams. The Police Department will pay for the cameras from their technology budget, a capital improvement fund. They will spread the cost over five years, at approximately $147,500 per year, with the first two years paid for by the city’s risk fund.

In anticipation of this purchase, the city has set aside risk funds over the last two years. The city also received funding up to $6,000 from the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority.

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