Public Safety

Iowa City seeking to replace car and body camera systems

Iowa City police officer Dave Schwindt wears a VIEVU wearable video camera as he patrols the Pedestrian Mall on Sept. 3, 2013, in downtown Iowa City.  The Iowa City Police Department is seeking to replace its in-car and body-worn camera systems. (File photo/The Gazette)
Iowa City police officer Dave Schwindt wears a VIEVU wearable video camera as he patrols the Pedestrian Mall on Sept. 3, 2013, in downtown Iowa City. The Iowa City Police Department is seeking to replace its in-car and body-worn camera systems. (File photo/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The Iowa City Police Department is seeking to replace its in-car and body-worn camera systems.

Iowa City Police Sgt. Derek Frank said the in-car camera systems are eight years old and no longer supported by their vendor.

“They won’t repair or replace anything on those particular models,” Frank said Friday.

As for the body cameras, which are four years old, those units “see a lot of wear and tear,” Frank said. Additionally, the hardware and storage systems for the cameras are six years old.

“It needs to be upgraded and expanded for more storage,” he said.

The new body camera systems from WatchGuard Video also combine the body microphone and body camera. Integrating the two pieces of technology creates a more consistent recording process and requires officers to carry one less piece of equipment, police said.

Camera systems have become indispensable in law enforcement. Frank said footage from cameras can be used if a member of the public has a concern or complaint about an interaction with an officer. Officers also will review footage from their cameras when preparing to testify in court.

Frank said cameras also are used when reviewing uses of force by an officer. While not commenting directly on two recent officer-involved shootings in Iowa City, Frank said camera footage is “invaluable” in those situations.

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“The camera doesn’t have an opinion,” he said. “Being able to review material from an incident when it may be an officer’s word and a suspect or witness’ word, it’s invaluable.”

The police department is seeking to spend $365,020 to cover the purchase and installation of the camera systems. The funds will come from the police department’s operating budget, as well as Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau grant funding and will cover 100 percent of the costs.

The city’s purchasing policy requires City Council approval for all purchases over $150,000. The council is set to vote on the request during its Tuesday meeting.

l Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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