Multi-million dollar body cam contract signed for IMPD officers

Crime

INDIANAPOLIS — Body cams for IMPD officers have been a long time coming.

Assistant Chief Chris Bailey reports that the contract was officially signed, and officers will begin wearing them in the coming weeks.

The contract lays out a $9.2 million dollar deal for a 5.5-year plan with Utility. That comes out to around $1.6 million per year beginning January 2, 2021.

According to the contract, the city paid $800,000 at signing, and $400,000 will be paid within the next couple of weeks. Bailey said the contract’s price includes 1,100 body cams and video storage.

“It’s a lot of money, and it’s been something we’ve been saying for a long time that this is not going to be an inexpensive endeavor,” Bailey said. “But, one that we believe in the long run is going to be worth the investment here in Indianapolis — both for our community and our officers.”

There are additional costs for hiring non-officer employees for redaction and public records requests and cellular service. But, Bailey said the city already covers cellular costs as officers have MiFis/air cards for their computers in the patrol cars.

“It’s something we thought about and we budgeted for,” Bailey explained.

At the time of the interview, Bailey did not have the exact numbers to report for the additional costs. He did confirm a lieutenant, already with IMPD, is in place to manage the program. They might need to add a sergeant as well.

Under this contract, 1,100 officers will receive the body cam equipment. That includes “all of our officers that answer 911 calls” and/or interact with the community every day, beat officers, supervisors and special teams.

Bailey explained that east district officers will be the first ones to receive the cameras, then they will move onto north district, then throughout the city. They goal is to also outfit 10 cars per day with the technology.

Halfway through the contract, after about three years, Utility will upgrade the technology.

“So that we’re keeping up with the latest technology and adjustments to the camera and the cloud software, the redaction software, all that goes along with the body camera because it’s a lot more than just a body camera slapped on the officer’s chest,” Bailey explained.

Bailey said they might have to discuss dash cams moving forward, as well as equipping all 1,700+ officers with more cameras.

“This is the initial cost. I think we’re going to have to expand the program as we move forward,” Bailey explained. “Those are discussions we’ll have to have as we move forward. This is a great start.”

Once the program is live and future videos are released, Bailey underscores the importance of context regarding these videos.

“This is just one tool to help us to build bridges between law enforcement and the community, to make sure that we’re transparent and we’re living up to the expectations that the community has for us,” Bailey said. “Our officers and this police department has wanted body cameras for a long time.”

He also reminds the community that even though these cameras will automatically record, they are a piece of technology, and technology can fail.

“There are going to be issues, and we hope they don’t occur when there’s a critical incident,” Bailey said.

You can read more about how these cameras operate in this previous story.

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