CADILLAC — A new city purchase could help police officers be just a little bit safer.

Monday, city council agreed to spend $50,169 on six 360-degree cameras for patrol cars and new body cameras for police officers. In addition to the gear, the amount also covers cloud-based storage of the video footage.

“Our in-car cameras are ancient and failing so we’re having issues quite often with them,‘ Capt. Eric Eller told the Cadillac News. The in-car systems were purchased in 2006 and last upgraded in 2012.

In replacing the in-car camera systems, the city is also upgrading them by purchasing 360-degree camera systems. Those are particularly important for field sobriety tests. As it is now, officers have to take an extra step to capture the full test because the cameras don’t have a 360-degree view.

“If I pulled you over for drunk driving and had you get out to perform field sobrieties, I’d have to remember to turn the camera to be able to pick that up,‘ Eller said.

That small task has safety implications.

“I have to take my attention off that driver for just a split second to turn that camera,‘ Eller said.

Public Safety Director Adam Ottjepka told city council Monday night that it’s becoming increasingly important for officers and prosecutors to be able to watch footage roadside for evaluations.

“The new camera system will include body worn cameras that allow officers in the field, administrators and citizens access to full transparency,‘ stated a memo to city council.

The cloud-based video storage will save time because the prosecutor’s office will be able to access the footage remotely, meaning police officers won’t have to burn DVDs and take them to the county offices before trial.

“It’s going to save us more money and time for our officers to be out on the road,‘ Ottjepka said.

While the city only appropriated $35,000 for patrol camera replacement and body cameras this year, there’s some extra money in the department budget.

“Based on departmental savings from longer-than-anticipated vacancies there are sufficient appropriations in the department to cover the additional $15,169,‘ states a memo to city council.

The city could have been just a few hundred dollars over appropriated budget; low bidder Pro-Vision Video Systems of Byron Center bid $31,209 for hardware and installation and $4,320 for one year of cloud-based storage. But the company also offered further discounts for upfront payment for the devices and five years of cloud-based storage, saving the city approximately $2,500.

Cloud-based storage will also save the city money in IT support fees.

Cadillac News