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Aurora, Ill., City Council Approves Police Body Cameras

The Aurora City Council this week approved a new five-year, $6.2 million contract for police body cameras and tasers that officials said would save the city about $2 million.

(TNS) — The Aurora City Council this week approved a new five-year, $6.2 million contract for police body cameras and Tasers that officials said would save the city about $2 million.

The new contract covers the Aurora Police Department's body-worn cameras, Tasers and accompanying software through 2028.

It consolidates three contracts the city has with Axon, two from earlier this year and one dating back to 2021, when the city first purchased body-worn cameras.

It is now one new contract, with the city paying through 2027 and covering the department through 2028, officials have said.

Alex Alexandrou, the city's chief management officer, has said the new contract includes upgrades when new technology comes out, rather than the city having to buy individual components "a la carte."

He said the city saves money and gets a better deal on new equipment through the contract.

The city will get 328 new body cameras, 150 new squad car cameras and 150 new Tasers. It also gets new software and licenses that cover them.

The software includes the My90 surveys that allow citizens to anonymously file input with the department. It also allows people to upload surveillance videos or photographs they might have from the scene of an incident police have been called to.

The software includes license plate readers the department has already used to recover 43 stolen vehicles, and which have developed leads on 200 cases, officials said.

The impetus for the new contract started with the availability of newer model Tasers that are more accurate and easier to handle, officials have said.

Right now, 110 officers carry Tasers, which they have to be trained to be issued. Another 16 are being trained now to use them.

The first price for the new contract was $8.2 million, but city officials negotiated the price down to $6.2 million.

The vote for the new contract was 11-1, with the lone no vote from Ald. John Laesch, at large, who said he was fine with the sections involving the body cameras, Tasers and squad car cameras.

But he said he opposed the additional camera surveillance, including those on drones.

"I don't want to live in a police state," he said.

Ald. Emmanuel Llamas, 1st Ward, said as one living in a part of the city where gunshots are sometimes heard, "I appreciate the surveillance and the expanding security."

City officials have pointed out in the past that the contract includes new software for the drones, but not new drones. The department will continue using the drones they have been using.

© 2023 The Beacon-News (Aurora, Ill.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.