At its February meeting Monday evening the Austell City Council approved new body cameras and in-car cameras requested by Chief Scott Hamilton and also made Axon the sole source for the cameras.
The body cameras will cost the city just over $30,000, and the in-car cameras, which will be purchased at a later date, have a price tag of $349,000, according to Hamilton.
“We’ve done our research and realized that we need to update our technology and make it more conducive to the type of police work that we do now,” Hamilton said.
He said that the existing cameras take too long to download, have to be downloaded onto a desktop computer and that they have a tendency to fall off the officer. He asked an officer who was present if he had his body camera on, and when the officer said no, Hamilton said “It probably fell off” to the laughter of people in the room.
The Axon system has cloud-based storage.
Hamilton said that the reason he proposed making Axon the sole source for cameras is that they are used by about 80 percent of departments in metro Atlanta, including the Cobb County Police Department and the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office.
He further said that the Austell Police Department was partnering with the Cobb County police in the CCPD’s Real-Time Crime Center, which uses a technology by Fusus that links together cameras from different sources to get a video feed of a crime in progress. Axon is one of the camera systems interoperable with Fusus.
Hamilton said that the money for the body cameras was already in the department’s budget, but that the money for the in-car cameras would have to be included in the next fiscal year if the purchase was approved.
The in-car cameras won’t be available until next December, he said.
Councilwoman Melanie Elder asked that if the in-car cameras won’t be ready until the next fiscal year, why not wait until the next budget is being prepared to order them?
Hamilton said that if the cameras aren’t ordered now, there is a likelihood the department won’t be able to get them by the earliest date they’ll be available, in December of this year, and it might be a year and a half before the department has them.
The council’s Police Department chair Devon Myrick made a motion to approve the request subject to availability of the funds in the next budget to cover the in-car cameras, and it passed 6-0.