COVID funds allow EL police to replace faltering body cams

East Liverpool Police officers Justin Watkins and Jesse Smith model the department’s new Getech body cameras, which can be worn on their chests. Notice that officers can adjust placement on their uniforms with Watkins preferring his camera a little lower, while Smith likes his worn higher. (Photo by Stephanie Ujhelyi)

EAST LIVERPOOL — City residents would acknowledge that this pandemic has brought a lot of new, unexpected solutions to the forefront of everyday life, such as face masks. However, in the case of the East Liverpool Police Department, it also gave them the opportunity to upgrade some technology.

The city’s officers recently replaced their body cameras, which had struggled to record action on an entire shift.

According to Police Chief John Lane, COVID funds allowed them to purchase 22 body cameras from Getech Photo Solutions out of Minnesota, they had bought about half that from a sister company of their traffic camera vendor years before. These new cameras last for 12 hours on a single charge, which includes their regular eight-hour shift plus four hours of extra duty if need be and can be worn on the chest just like the other ones.

“Everyone got their own and we got a couple extra. We were even able to give one to the Planning Department for their enforcement officer,” explained Lane, adding the city spent $25,000 in COVID money. In addition to the affordability, he also liked the versatility associated with the camera and its operations.

In today’s society, Chief Lane stressed the importance of using the body cameras. “People act so much differently when they know that they are being recorded,” he explained.

The previous cameras, which cost $20,000 for 12 of them from Blue Line Solutions’ sister company, were more cost-prohibitive. Not only did they fail to last an entire shift if the officer kept it activated the entire time; after the city cancelled, the company began charging the city $1,200 per month to store the camera data on their system.

There hadn’t been many problems associated with the previous cameras. At the time, their 360 degree recording capabilities seemed an attractive bonus; however, that also meant they used a lot of its battery life.

Also with C.A.R.E.S. Act moneys, the city purchased its own server to store the footage, solving the issue associated with the Blue Line cameras added expense.

So far, Lane has been happy with the cameras’ performance especially considering the price difference allowed him to purchase twice as many units, so each officer has his own individual camera plus the department has a few extras. Lane also was able to provide a body camera to the housing inspector.


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