The Blaine City Council Dec. 15 approved purchase of body cameras and Tasers.
This will be the first time that officers with the Blaine Police Department will wear video cameras.
Police Chief Chris Olson had recommended the department have these cameras to provide another angle beyond the squad car videos or any security camera footage. But he has reminded the council that any body camera will still be limited in what will be caught on video.
“We always have to remember that body-worn cameras can only bring on one additional perspective. It’s not the perspective. It’s just an additional perspective,” he said.
The city budgeted $97,000 for the upgrades 2017. This includes $25,500 for the 64 body cameras, $15,000 for 10 charging devices that can each hold six cameras at a time and $56,500 for licensing, professional services and cloud-based data storage.
Police officers already have Tasers, but the department is getting 64 new Tasers for free as part of the package deal. Olson said this will be a $36,000 savings for the city. TASER International makes the Taser guns and its Axon division makes the body cameras.
The council’s vote on Dec. 15 not only included purchasing equipment, but also a maintenance agreement with TASER International that extends beyond 2017. The annual cost to the city in 2018 through 2021 will be $76,032.
Olson said the next step will be for the police department to develop a policy on camera use and data storage. This policy will provide more guidance on when cameras could be turned off, for example. The public will have the chance to comment on this policy before it is adopted, Olson said.
Olson clarified that although the video captured by these body cameras will be put on a cloud-based server, the Blaine Police Department would be in charge of responding to all requests for the video. State law dictates what can and cannot be released.
Olson said it will be later in 2017 by the time all these cameras would be used at once. He told the council there will be time needed for training and field testing and that he wants all cameras to be used at once rather than just putting a few out of a time.