Government

Cedar Rapids police to get body cameras

Council also approves PCI deal, incentive for Pomeranz

A Cedar Rapids Police Officer badge sits on a table before the start of the 42nd Basic Cedar Rapids Regional Police Academy Graduation Ceremony at The Lodge at ushers Ferry in Cedar Rapids on Friday, November 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
A Cedar Rapids Police Officer badge sits on a table before the start of the 42nd Basic Cedar Rapids Regional Police Academy Graduation Ceremony at The Lodge at ushers Ferry in Cedar Rapids on Friday, November 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Police Department plans to outfit its force with body cameras after getting approval Tuesday from the City Council.

The council approved a $300,000, three-year contract with Keltek Inc. of Baxter, in partnership with Panasonic, to supply the cameras along with training, docking and charging stations and licensing, but excluding data storage cost.

“It promotes trust and transparency,” said police Chief Wayne Jerman. “Recorded interactions are indisputable. It’s another method we are able to use for both sides. It also highlights the incredible, remarkable and difficult job today’s police encounter every day and every night.”

The council approved the contract by an 8-0 vote as part of its routine consent agenda. Susie Weinacht was not in attendance for the vote.

Police had completed a six-month trial of body cameras on its Police Community Action Team, which has the most public interaction. The trial prompted the large-scale deployment. Equipping patrol officers with the cameras is the first priority, followed by equipping investigators as the budget allows.

Police estimate they will purchase 100 body cameras within the first year. It will take at least a couple of years to outfit the full 200-officer department, Jerman said.

Keltek beat out two other vendors, Axon Enterprises, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Digital-Ally, of Lenexa, Kan.

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The cameras automatically are turned on when cruiser lights are engaged and are to be used for all public encounters, Jerman said.

Grant money will supplement the project.

DEAL ADVANCES

In other action, the council voted 8-0 to authorize city staff to negotiate a subsidy plan for an entreprenuer-centric housing project to anchor a new extension of the city’s popular New Bohemia District.

The framework of the deal for the $23 million, 109 unit, five-story ArtTech Village by Hatch Development allows a 15 year, 100 percent tax break, a city-funded parking lot and a city-guaranteed loan.

Terms of the loan and tax break are be outlined. The final agreement is expected to be voted on in March.

The parking lot land would be deeded back to the city, which may build a parking ramp there in the future. Another notable aspect of the project is the city’s bike trail that would go under one of the buildings and through the property.

Council members said they don’t generally like underwriting loans, but thought the project would help speed up growth of the new part of NewBo, which was made possible by the 16th Avenue SE extension and a new flood levee.

Council members said the project would help satisfy a need for lower-cost workforce housing in the downtown area. The project would come with a lease commitment to provide housing to members of the Iowa Startup Accelerator.

IN OTHER VOTES

• Approved a development agreement worth $8.23 million for the $28 million expansion of the Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa at 10th Street between Second and Third Avenue SE. Council members credited PCI for exceeding commitments of investment, assessed value and jobs created, while putting aside questions about an abundance of parking in the area, noting parking ramps like one in the PCI project are needed.

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• Approved a $25,000 per year retention bonus paid out only if City Manager Jeff Pomeranz, 59, stays on board until he is 65. Pomeranz also received a 3.5 percent raise to his $278,875 salary. He also receives $90,458 in deferred compensation.

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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