The St. Joseph County Police Department is getting nearly $2.2 million to purchase a body camera system. The funding is coming from $10.5 million first round of the county’s nearly $53 million in American Rescue Plan dollars.
The department has been exploring getting body cameras for a year and a half. Both the Mishawaka and South Bend Police use them, and the county police say they have become an industry standard in law enforcement.
The county board of commissioners unanimously approved the $2,197,655 purchase Tuesday morning. The money also covers the training expenses and computer upgrades needed for the body cameras, as well as upgrades to in-car cameras.
The department will be buying cameras from Axon, a major camera manufacturer and the inventor of the Taser.
According to the proposal, the cameras would automatically start recording whenever a new Taser is turned on and come with holster sensors, so they would also start recording whenever a handgun is drawn.
They also feature a “back in time” system, where video can be recovered from the camera if it was turned on but not activated up to 18 hours later, and 24 hours later for the in-car cameras.
The proposal says the “back in time” feature is particularly important, citing the 2019 police shooting of Eric Logan.
Ryan O'Neill, the former South Bend police officer who shot and killed Logan, was wearing a body camera but did not activate it before confronting him.
“With the current Axon product that we favor, the video would have been retrievable up to 18 hours later,” the proposal says.
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