Body and car cameras purchased for police

Published 4:50 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The City of Dowagiac is doubling down on its commitment to transparency of the operations of its police forces during their line of duty.

The city council approved the purchase of new digital in-vehicle and body-worn video cameras for the Dowagiac Police Department during its meeting Monday evening at Dowagiac City Hall.

The city will pay nearly $33,000 to Digital Alley for the purchase and installation of the devices, following the recommendation of Director of Public Safety Steven Grinnewald.

The digital recording equipment, which automatically uploads footage to a remote server, will replace the department’s existing in-car cameras that were installed nearly a decade ago.

“[The department] is excited about the possibilities,” said City Manager Kevin Anderson. “When in-car cameras came in, it really changed the nature of police work and how they can respond, and the body cameras take that to the next level. Especially as you see some of the things in the national news now, I think it’s very appropriate to have this additional level of information available to us.”

The city leadership has discussed the purchase of new video cameras for its public safety officers since last summer, Anderson said.

“The timing works out well because the existing cameras we have in the vehicles have exceeded their useful life and it was time for a replacement anyway, so we’re not really moving up that purchase at all,” he said.

The city expects to receive around $10,000 worth of grant funding from the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority to help pay for the new equipment. The rest of the funding will come from the city’s technology replacement fund, Anderson said.

Dowagiac police officers have been using in-car cameras to assist them in the field since 2001, according to a letter submitted to council by Grinnewald. In addition to providing a valuable resource as evidence for court proceedings or as a tool to verify officer reports and testimony, recorded footage is often utilized as a training tool for new officers, Anderson said.

“It seems to convict the guilty and protect the innocent,” commented Councilmember Charles Burling. “It protects the officers, and it will identify any bad officers and protect the public. Certainly seems like a win-win to me.”