City council discusses body cameras for Elkhart Police Department

NOW: City council discusses body cameras for Elkhart Police Department

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ELKHART, Ind. -- The Elkhart Common Council gathering Thursday evening to discuss a proposal to purchase 150 more body cameras for officers. The proposed plan would cost the city up to $735,000 tax payer dollars in the first year.

While there was no decision made council members say they recognize the need for the cameras, but want to make sure they do it in the most cost effective way possible.

“Their presentation lacked for lack of a better word kind of a transparency to all of us because the component of the product wasn’t even developed yet," said Council Member, Mary Olsen.

A call for more transparency and training for officers being brought up by Olsen during the meeting while discussing the 5-year contract with Axon Enterprises.

The council member saying she sees the need for more cameras, but feels the added up front costs need to be broken down further in order to get the council’s full support.

“I think everybody’s convinced at what’s going on in our county right now that this is what we need. We just want to figure out how are we going to pay for it and if there’s any savings to be had we want to have those," said Council Member, Arvis Dawson.

The proposed plan would amount to a 5-year contract for the city with Axon to purchase 150 body cams. The $735,000 would be just the first payment. The entire purchase would cost more than $7.3-million over the next 5 years.

“I’m in full support of the program I just want it to be revenue neutral if at all possible. If we have excess amount of monies in our police funds then we probably need to be accessing those to pay for these cameras and any other equipment and if we have to do so contractually to take care of our employees then we have to do that, but if that money’s available I think that should be used to pay for this equipment," said Dawson.

The money would cover not only the cost of body cameras, but also tasers, dash cams, and other police equipment.

The cameras would go to every police officer on the Elkhart city police force which are currently only issued to patrol officers.

The full council will meet next week on Monday to make a decision.

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