The new technology will come in the form of updated in-car camera systems, body-worn cameras for all uniformed officers, new computers and video systems for department interview rooms.
(TNS) — Texas' Amarillo Police Department will soon receive a variety of equipment upgrades, including in-car mobile cameras, new computers, body-worn cameras for all uniformed officers and enhanced video systems in department interview rooms. During Tuesday's regular meeting city council members approved an agreement with Trinity Innovation Solutions for more than $1.4 million to replace the current police department in-camera system and add the body-worn camera package.
"This will allow us to replace 134 in-car video systems," Amarillo Police Chief Ed Drain said, adding the effort is backed by city operational funding while anticipating the initiative would be functional in six months. "And the reason we need to replace them is our current system is over 12 years old. Our most current issue is the current system has a small media card in it that holds four to eight gigabytes of information and should automatically download when the officer pulls the car in. That's not happening. Now officers have to come off the street when they get an indication the card is full, manually pull that media card out and replace it. It's highly inefficient."
Drain said the current in-car video system would be replaced with DVR units that hold 256 gigabytes of information and includes a central processing unit, enabling the vendor to add a keyboard and monitor to assemble a computer system.
"We will also be able to replace our in-car computers," he said. "So to replace all of those in our vehicles, we are saving about $350,000 to $450,000 by getting dual use from the DVR system."
With regard to the body-worn cameras, Drain said the 235 units will enable all uniformed personnel to be equipped with the devices.
"We typically have two to three officer-involved shooting per year," he said. "We had five of those critical incidents in 2018 and already had one this year. We had no police video in any of those shootings. Besides our critical incidents, we also need the body cameras to help with evidence. The body-worn cameras allow us to be more transparent with what is happening out there."
Drain said $63,929 in seized funds will be used to replace the department's 11 interview room systems through Trinity Innovative Solutions - adding the department has nine interview rooms in which investigative squads interview witnesses, suspects and victims, in addition one interview room each at the county jails for DWI processing.
He said of the 11 interview rooms, there are two systems that are over 10 years old in the jails and there is currently one system in the room for the Special Crimes Unit, which conducts homicide investigations.
Council member Eddy Sauer said he views the manner in which the city is approaching the upgrades bodes well for the future.
"One thing I'll say about this that I've learned in my own business over a period of time, is when you start talking about technology, you really don't want to purchase things at all," he said. "You want it to be something set up like this because the way things improve and change. Ten years ago you would just buy whatever you needed and go on. You can't do that anymore, because if you do that, you get a decade behind. I think this is a smart move looking forward."
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