Seligman gets new police equipment

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Glocks, car and body cameras added to arsenal

The Seligman Police Department recently updated its equipment with the purchase of new firearms and cameras.

According to Terry Burgess, city police chief, the department bought one in-car camera system, two body cameras and four Glock model 17 firearms.

The camera systems cost roughly $6,000.

"It brings us into the future," he said. "People expect us to have cameras. They expect us to have everything they see on TV. Everything happens instantly and quickly. Unfortunately, TV shapes some perceptions and reality.

"The other benefit is on more major incidents that maybe involve the use of force, you've got an unbiased witness there. It's not only there to protect the officer, it's there to protect the public."

Burgess said the in-car camera is always recording, but when the emergency lights are activated on the vehicle, it triggers the file to record the previous 30-seconds.

"A lot of times what you're going to see is the actual violation, so when you back in time, it's going to record the event. On routine traffic stops, it's another piece of evidence the officer will have if someone's in disagreement with a stop."

The gun purchases helped advance the department, Burgess said, who helped save the city a significant amount of money on the purchase.

"We had one department firearm -- a subcompact Glock in a 40-caliber."

Cost for the four firearms came in at $1,428. However, due to Burgess raising over $2,000 at a silent police auction, and receiving a break on taxes, the actual cost was only about $572.

A great deal of Glock models start around $500 apiece and go up from there, Burgess said.

"When the department purchases guns for department use, we don't pay the federal excise tax, so that price is deducted," he said. "It's about 11 percent. It all comes out of the general fund. My justification was we had the silent auction.

"It was a good opportunity to have [the purchases] not come out of the general funds. We raised over $2,000. It was a much better turnout from what I expected. The department hadn't done one in at least five years."

Auctioned items primarily included seized firearms and unclaimed property.

"Three [seized firearms] were from a felon who was prohibited from having firearms, some were items that already belonged to the department, and a couple were unclaimed property," he said. "On those, we put ads in the paper to identify them to get people to come forward and had not been able to find the owner. So, after siting here for about 18 months, they were put in the auction. The items were out for display. People could view and inspect them, and we had bid sheets and envelopes. The bids were opened during the council meeting."

According to policy, the department doesn't issue firearms to officers, Burgess said.

"Each individual officer was responsible for providing one," he said. "Having officers provide their own guns is pretty common. In the sheriff's department, they all provide their own duty weapons."

It's also due to individual preference, such as how a gun handles and shoots, Burgess said.

"Everybody has a preference in what they carry," he said. "Some go different routes because it's more cost-effective. In the retail world, Glocks start around $500 and go up. It's a large expense, so for a lot of departments, it's really not in the budget. With this, we had the opportunity to advance the department, and we took advantage of it."

Brian Nichols, Seligman city clerk, said city officials approved the purchase of four new weapons.

"We currently have one firearm that's shared amongst officers," said Brian Nichols, Seligman city clerk. "Or, if they don't want to use the Glock, they would use their own personal firearm. So, any officer coming in would have to use the Glock and it would change policy.

"The main difference is just the angle of the grip. A Glock is a polymer, high capacity, more lightweight firearm."

Nichols said the city wanted to purchase cameras now, while it could get a good deal, because there's a good possibility the cameras may become mandated by the state. If they are, the price could spike, and Burgess said they are already expensive.

"Each officer would be required to wear a camera, so any interaction they have with anyone is recorded," Nichols said. "Everyone's really going that route, and Ferguson really kicked it off. This isn't set in stone, but there's a lot of push for [the cameras] to be mandated by the state.

"Just the ones that are worn on the chest are $1,000 apiece. But, they provide high-quality video footage and audio pickup. The concern is, if we don't do it now and it gets mandated, are we going to see a huge price increase? For now, they ordered one vehicle system and two body cameras."

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