Purdy police consider body cams

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Council members seek more direction on camera use

The Purdy City Council leaned toward the purchase of body cameras but asked for more details about protocols for their use before moving forward.

"It's probably time to look at them," said Police Chief Jackie Lowe.

Four bids offered by Lowe placed the least expensive cameras at $400 each, for the AXON model from the Taser company. Lowe said Taser's product is one of the most popular and is used by the Los Angeles Police Department. It works fairly well in low light and can be attached to a pocket or button hole.

Officer Russ Nichols said the camera made by WatchGuard, which produced the police car camera, will integrate together so that if one lapses, the other will pick up.

Lowe said the city will need a policy for when to turn on the camera, how long they should run and how long to store the information. Nichols suggested downloading images into a computer file with relevant case information, or keeping unrelated data for 30 days.

Few local departments use body cameras, Lowe said, other than Anderson and bigger cities like Columbia.

There does not seem to be any general consensus on body camera use.

"The problem is it's all new to all of us," Nichols said.

"I think we're all in agreement on getting them," said Mayor Steve Roden. "It's cheap insurance. I trust our officers. We want to protect them. [The problems that prompted discussion of body cameras] are all capable of being here."

"Would we want to be the first?" questioned alderman Wayne Rupp. "I don't think so."

Council members favored buying two cameras. Roden asked Lowe to seek more examples of protocols on camera use prior to council action.

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