A lack of available funding creates a hurdle for the Jefferson City Police Department to equip officers with new radios and body-worn cameras.
JCPD Captain Eric Wilde on Tuesday discussed the potential for purchasing new radios and body cameras with the Jefferson City Council Committee on Public Safety.
Wilde said the department is studying how much it would cost to equip 70 of the department’s 90 officers with body-worn cameras. Ministry command staff would be excluded as they are less likely to be involved in incidents with the public.
“We did a pretty thorough study of body cameras and the best route to take, and it really boils down to two options: you can either buy these cameras and all the hardware and storage you need to maintain them, or you can doing what is essentially a lease, ”Wilde said.
Both options have positives and negatives, he said.
Wilde estimates that the purchase of 70 body cameras, along with the necessary storage equipment, would cost approximately $ 400,000. While this would cost less than renting the cameras, the department would have to spend more money to maintain inventory when the cameras stop working and pay for data storage.
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Wilde said the department also needs to replace the cameras in the patrol cars, and that there are options to rent the two types of cameras together, which would help keep the technology connected.
Renting the cameras would cost between $ 750,000 and nearly $ 1 million over a five-year period. However, the cameras would be replaced every two years and broken cameras could be sent in for repair. The deal would also include virtual cloud storage for video.
“It’s a lot more expensive, but I would say the upside is that it’s predictable,” Wilde said. “You know what you’re going to pay over a five-year period, and you know you’ll always have working cameras.”
Getting the body cameras is more a matter of “when” than “if,” he said.
“We are committed; 100%,” said Wilde. “I have officers here every day who wish they had them, because most of the time the body camera exonerates an officer from a frivolous complaint. It’s just a matter of finding the funding to make it happen.”
Wilde said the department would likely include the purchase of the cameras in its H-sales tax funding plan for capital improvement. The city is currently on the G sales tax. The H sales tax will be renewed in 2021 and would come into effect the following year.
Ward 4 Councilor Carlos Graham, who is chairman of the public safety committee, said he would request an update on the body camera process in future meetings.
The department also hopes to equip all agents with a specific type of new radios that will enable them to participate in the Missouri Statewide Interoperability Network, which allows participating agencies to communicate with each other by radio.
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JCPD is the only agency in the region that cannot use MOSWIN on a large scale. The Cole County Sheriff’s Department, Lincoln University Police Department, Capitol Police Department, Missouri Highway Patrol and Callaway County Sheriff’s Office all have access, Wilde said.
In the past, if events such as a police chase moved from Jefferson City to the jurisdiction of another agency, JCPD had to go through the 911 centers of both agencies to communicate the event.
“In a Perfect World, if we got into a lawsuit here, we would be able to allow Callaway County to switch to our MOSWIN channel to communicate directly with them throughout the current event,” said Wilde.
Wilde said that another benefit of MOSWIN radios is that they allow officers to scan other agencies’ traffic channels and allow them to keep their ears open for anything they might need to know as soon as possible. they can.
Radios are available in portable versions, carried on the officer’s person, and mobile versions that fit in patrol cars. Currently, the JCPD has 15 of each, issued to command vehicles and supervisors.
The 15 portable radios totaled $ 73,853 and the 15 mobile radios totaled $ 72,459.
While they see both as important, Wilde said, portable radios would be the top priority so every agent would have one with them. Portable radios can be used anywhere the agent is located, unlike on-board mobile radios.
Wilde said purchasing another 75 portable radios to equip each officer would cost around $ 364,000.
The Jefferson City Fire Department is also hoping to purchase new radios, Fire Chief Matt Schofield said on Tuesday.
The department submitted the purchase of the new radios as its priority funding request during the city’s budget process for fiscal 2021, but did not receive funding. The request was for $ 158,000.
Schofield said they also want to install a portable radio on each crew member.
Schofield said they have about $ 34,000 a year in sales tax to use for the purchase of fire fighting equipment, and the department lets it roll around each year to be used for radios.
The department has about $ 130,000 to use for the radios, but it is still about $ 86,000 short.