St. Francis to equip squad cars with new digital camera systems

St. Francis Police Department’s squad cars will soon be equipped with the same digital audio and video camera system that the majority of the country’s law enforcement agencies are already using.

The St. Francis City Council on Feb. 18 approved a request by Police Sergeant Jake Rehling to spend approximately $45,000 to equip six of the city’s squad cars with the systems.

The expenditure, which the city had not budgeted for in 2014, will be funded by the city’s liquor store revenue.

Rehling said the camera systems protect both the public and the police officers, as they provide video and audio evidence of traffic evidence and pursuits and can also assist officers with writing reports and court testimony.

Councilmember Chris McClish, who said he is familiar with the digital video camera system, said it is a great tool and that the $45,000 price tag is cheap considering that it can eliminate false complaints against police officers during traffic stops and can also reduce court costs since violations are captured on video.

Rehling said the St. Francis Police Department did have in-squad VHS cameras more than 10 years ago, but that system had some functioning problems and also required the department to store a large number of VHS tapes, which resulted in space and security concerns. When the department stopped using the system there was not yet new technology available to replace it.