Police officers in Fort Oglethorpe will soon have new technology as part of their uniforms after the City Council approved the purchase of body cameras for the department.

During the Oct. 28 City Council meeting, Police Chief Mike Helton explained that body cameras are an item the department has been considering and researching for a while.

“Our department would like to recommend to you the purchase of Axon body camera systems,” Helton said. “We’ve been studying this process for about a year and a half. We understand the need in society now that police officers are being watched more than ever, and at the same time, our officers welcome being watched.”

While some law enforcement officers might be somewhat reluctant to wear cameras in the field, Helton assured that his officers are looking forward to having the technology available.

“We happen to have a department that welcomes this tool,” Helton said. “We have trialed and errored probably about four different systems to try to narrow down what it was we wanted in a product.

Helton said his agency recently opened bids for the equipment and were able to settle on a company that met all the desired specs.

“We also went out to bid and received bids from seven different companies,” Helton said. “Of the bids we received, the Axon system that we’re recommending to you today is the only one that complied with everything that we were seeking. This particular tool also syncs with our particular tasers. If the tasers come out, then the body cameras come on. It’s a feature that some of the other companies simply couldn’t do.”

Per the quote presented, the cameras will cost just under $88,000.

“This particular recommendation that we have before you tonight is five years worth of service and we own the products for $87,588,” Helton said. “That will come from our general revenue funds from within the police department.

Although the cost is high on the front end, Helton said the cameras will offer a lot of value in the long run.

“This provides us with the capabilities essentially to record each officer for a year for about $674. That’s a pretty good rate when think of all they can protect us with and be able to look back on,” Helton said.

During testing, Helton says his officers and staff were impressed with how well the systems worked.

“We found these extremely useful,” Helton said. “When it came down to showing young officers how they were looking and sounding when they were talking to some citizens, we found it to be a tremendous teaching tool and we would like to acquire these for the police department to use for the next five years.”

The council unanimously (5-0) approved the purchase.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area.

He has been a reporter since 2009.

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