In a Bid for Transparency, Jackson, Mich., PD Roll Out Body Camera Program

Forty-two body cameras have been deployed to officers, and new in-car camera systems are coming soon.

by Taylor DesOrmeau, Citizen Patriot / July 2, 2018
David Kidd/Government Technology

(TNS) — JACKSON, Mich. — Body cameras purchased by the city of Jackson in March are now in use by the Jackson Police Department.

Following training earlier this month, police officers are now wearing the cameras while on duty, Jackson Director of Police and Fire Services Elmer Hitt said.

The city agreed to a $128,000 contract with Axon Enterprise to purchase the 42 body cameras. The city signed a separate contract with Axon for nearly $79,000 at its Tuesday, June 26 meeting to purchase a new in-car camera system.

Once the new in-car cameras are implemented this fall, footage will be uploaded through cloud-based storage in a similar fashion to the body camera footage.

Currently, in-car camera footage is recorded on CDs. Because the city retains recordings for three years, the department has a room full of CDs stacked up.

When the department first started using in-car cameras around 2000, footage went to VHS tapes, Hitt said.

"(Like) the body cameras, I think (the new in-car cameras) provide a heightened level of transparency to the community on what our officers are doing out there on a daily basis," Hitt said. "And it helps protect the city in the event of a lawsuit."

The new camera system is being implemented in all 21 patrol vehicles, Hitt said. The current L3 system has started having issues, he added, and are "at the end of their useful life." The video and audio quality is also better on the Axon system, Hitt said.

Footage from body cameras and in-car cameras can be requested by citizens through the Freedom of Information Act.

Body cameras must be manually triggered, Hitt said in March, but the department requires them to be activated during public interactions. With the new in-car camera system, footage will be automatically uploaded to Axon's evidence.com once the patrol vehicles pull into the department lot.

©2018 Citizen Patriot, Jackson, Mich. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.