Superior City Council To Vote On Body Camera + Stun Gun Updates
The Superior City Council will decide whether or not to fund an update to the police departments body and squad car cameras and stun guns. The move would replace out "aging" equipment that the department depends on every day.
Price tag for the necessary upgrades exceeds $500,00. According to an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], the Superior City Council would look to utilize some funding for the new equipment from the dollars available via the federal American Rescue Plan Act; St. Louis County recently did something similar when they approved spending to install body cameras on St. Louis County Sheriff's Deputies.
The Superior Police Department currently has cameras and stun guns. But the current models are more than six years old and failing. Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander explains:
"We have a system that's being held together with Band-Aids right now, so it needs to be addressed. I can't imagine policing without them."
Many of the camera units have been failing. "Sixteen of the cameras failed over the last year and it cost $450 each to replace". Superior Police Captain Paul Winterscheidt offers "Right now you have to search for a functioning body worn camera. That's not situation we want to put our officers in".
But the issue isn't just with cameras that won't work. Even the ones that are in serviceable condition still need TLC to get them through a shift. Winterscheidt continues:
"Even working cameras have batteries that don't last a full shift. Officers have to plug them into their squads or return to the station to charge them. Squad cameras are also failing, as is the hard drive of the 44-terrabyte server used to store that digital evidence".
With the growing importance of body cameras in police work, the expense is something that the department and the city council is placing a great importance in. It's the same thing with stun guns. Many of those units are more than 15 years old and failing, also. Winterscheidt offers "I can think of several shifts that I've covered on the street helping out with the sergeants where I haven't had a Taser to take out on the street".
Those that make it to the street on patrol are lacking, too. The "current units are only about 50% effective, even at close range".
Authorities say that replacement for all of that equipment at this time is prudent. It's needed and the price is right; technology prices always go up - so waiting will only make the price tag higher. The department has reason to believe that pricing will increase by 5% next year.
The Superior City Council will take up the issue with a vote at it's meeting on December 21.