By Bob Sandrick, special to cleveland.com
STRONGSVILLE, Ohio – For the first time, the city will buy body cameras for each of its 55 or so uniformed police patrol officers.
The body cams, along with 30 new dashboard cameras that will replace existing in-car units, will come from a company called Anixer in Glenview, Illinois at a total cost of $449,837.
City Council approved the camera purchases in February.
Police Chief Mark Fender didn’t say when the cameras would be installed, although he did say that both body and dashboard cameras would be put in about the same time.
“We are still waiting for the order to come in and to schedule the product installation by the company,” Fender told cleveland.com in an email last week.
According to minutes of the Feb. 18 council meeting, Fender said half of the Police Department’s dashboard cameras are not working.
Strongsville bought the cameras through the U.S. General Services Administration, which uses the nation’s buying power to secure deals on various goods and services. The GSA then passes those prices along to state and local governments that participate in the program.
The GSA had a contract with Anixer, and Strongsville piggybacked onto that contract.
This year, the city budgeted $400,000 for the purchase of police body and dashboard cameras, and late last year Fender said the city would buy the cameras from Utility Associates Inc. in Decatur, Georgia.
It wasn’t clear why the city switched to Anixer, although buying through the GSA generally means lower prices. Fender didn’t answer when asked if the cameras from Anixter, purchased through the GSA contract, will cost less compared to Utility Associates cameras, which the city would have purchased on its own.
Regardless of the vendor, the cameras’ brand, BodyWorn, will not change from the city’s initial choice. BodyWorn cameras have GPS locators that automatically send an alert if turned to a horizontal position, indicating that an officer is down. Thanks to the GPS feature, dispatchers and other officers receiving the alert will know the downed officer’s location.
Meanwhile, the new BodyWorn dashboard cameras show clearer images than the city’s existing cameras, Fender said. The dashboard cameras are in sync with the body cameras, so that once an officer steps out of the cruiser, or when the emergency lights are activated, the cameras turn on, and the video is recorded.
According to minutes of the Feb. 18 city council meeting, Fender said the cameras come with five-year guarantees, and Anixer will upgrade the units after three years.
Fender said each officer will be issued a body camera, so they won’t have to share. He said BodyWorn is the only body camera on the market that is inside the officer’s uniform, so it can’t be knocked off.