Aiken, S.C., to Purchase Body Cameras

The Department of Public Safety has the city’s approval to purchase a new suite of new body cameras at a cost of nearly $71,000.

by Colin Demarest, Aiken Standard / July 6, 2018

(TNS) — The Aiken Department of Public Safety will soon deploy new, up-to-date body cameras on its officers.

At the end of June, City Council unanimously approved using $70,896.39 for the purchase of body cameras and related equipment from Digital Ally Inc.

The intent is to give each officer a body-worn camera, according to Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco.

The money is sourced from a body camera program provided by the S.C. Department of Public Safety. The City secured the money in July 2017, according to City Council documents.

Digital Ally Inc., established in 2004, is based in Lenexa, Kansas.

Barranco said the spending comes at a time when body cameras — a tool Public Safety has been utilizing for several years now — are wearing out and at a time when technology is improving "so much."

"When we got into the body cam business, Council allocated some money … and we worked a lot of the tweaks out," Barranco said.

The City recently issued a request for proposal for new body cameras. Company responses were due June 1.

Seven vendors submitted proposals.

A Public Safety review of each bid was then initiated, resulting in a seven-point Digital Ally Inc. recommendation written by Barranco, which was submitted to City Council mid-June.

According to the recommendation, Digital Ally Inc. body cameras are "the only" cameras immediately compatible with the department's in-car camera system.

In the same vein, Digital Ally Inc. body cameras can be synced with the in-car cameras, which means when one turns on, so does the other, according to the review.

Public Safety's in-car cameras are also from Digital Ally Inc.

Barranco's assessment also notes the body camera's charging and software perks.

"Now, we're looking for good quality, of course, longevity of the battery," the chief later said, "and some streamlining of some processes."

Barranco described body cameras – usually worn on the chest and clipped to clothing – as a "great tool" for both the community and Public Safety.

Cameras aid transparency and investigations, he said, while also protecting officers.

The Aiken County Sheriff's Office also utilizes body cameras.

Digital Ally Inc. cameras are used in all 50 states, according to the company's website.

©2018 the Aiken Standard (Aiken, S.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.