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Contract Amendment for Police Body Worn Cameras Is Approved by Council

Published on Monday, December 13, 2021 | 7:08 pm
 

Axon body-worn police cameras shown loaded in a docking station. Police said the docking station charges the units, downloads any captured data and uploads the data to the Pasadena police server, and also updates the camera software as needed by the manufacturer. [Image courtesy of Pasadena Police Dept.]
On the second go round, the Pasadena City Council passed an amendment to its police body-worn camera contract, and directed staff to also consider a trial period of new body-worn camera technology.

The contract amendment does not include accessories that allows Axon body-worn cameras to automatically activate when a firearm is removed from its holster, which will ensure the body-worn camera is turned on during a critical incident, which was listed in a previous staff report.

“The contract extension will include upgrades to the latest Axon cameras and docking stations; an additional upgrade to the latest cameras in two-and-a-half-years; a complete five-year warranty for service and replacement; and 10GB of additional storage on Evidence.com per camera for digital media that is not produced by an Axon device,” according to a staff report. “The additional storage will allow for storage and upload of video provided by members of the community during investigations.”

However, the item could go before the city’s Police Oversight Commission and could come back to the City Council in January.

“If we were to have the cameras record upon removal there is a one time cost of $62,000,” said Interim City Manager Cynthia Kurtz.

Axon recommended the council consider the improved technology on a trial basis, features that allow the cameras to run continuously in the background on a low resolution audio-free setting.

The contract would be amended at a cost not-to-exceed $1.7 million for the police department’s body-worn camera system.

Body worn cameras are now seen as a benchmark in police accountability, and according to some reports the technology has led to a reduction in use of force incidents.

The Pasadena Police Department initiated a body-worn camera program in 2016.

Since then, the department has uploaded over one million evidentiary items, including videos, voice recordings, documents to Axon Enterprise’s secure, cloud based digital evidence management system platform called Evidence.com, according to a city staff report.

Criminal case video and voice recording evidence have been submitted electronically to the City Prosecutor/District Attorney’s Office for prosecuting cases.

Axon will continue to provide unlimited data storage, new equipment, complete warranty on all hardware and integration with the Department’s Computer Aided Dispatch to automatically tag calls for service with the corresponding video.

The department responds to approximately 1,600 requests a year for body-worn camera footage for court and for public records requests.

In many cases, the footage is available to the public via a public records act. The city also releases footage in critical incidents usually well ahead of the mandated 45-day deadline.

According to research by the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Council on Criminal Justice’s Task Force on Policing, in cities that use body-worn cameras, complaints against police dropped by 17% and the use of force by police, during fatal and non-fatal encounters, fell by nearly 10%.

“BWC’s provide additional documentation of police/public encounters and are an important tool for collecting evidence and maintaining public trust,” Deputy Chief Cheryl Moody told Pasadena Now. “They also serve as a transparency component for the police department and city government.”

The item came before two weeks ago as part of the consent calendar, where multiple contract items can be approved with a sweep motion.

Questions arose on storage and the camera’s buffering system.

Currently, the police department deploys 295 of the 313 body-worn camera fleet.

The cameras are assigned to both sworn and professional staff department members who routinely come into contact with the public while working in the field.

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