CAMDEN — Council voted to outfit two police cruisers with computers and one with an in-car video and body camera system during its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, May 6.
Sgt. David Stemp informed the council that a federal grant would cover 75 percent of the cost of purchasing, mounting and installing the new computer systems; of the total $15,000 cost, $11,108 will be paid for using grant funds, while the remaining $3,924 will be transferred from the village’s General Operations fund.
Once the systems are installed, all five cruisers currently in active use by the Camden Police Dept. will be equipped with in-car video, according to Stemp.
Council member Jeff Steele asked whether the car equipped with the body cam system would be assigned to a particular officer or used by whatever patrol officer happens to be on duty.
“If we’re going to do this, I’d like it to be in the car everyone uses,” Steele said.
Steele suggested purchasing body cam systems for the other four vehicles as well.
“That way there’s none of this he-said, she-said when something goes sideways,” Steele said.
Stemp indicated that purchasing body cameras for the other four cruisers would incur a cost of around $6,000, though he was generally in favor of the move.
“I think they help people far more than they hurt,” Stemp said of the cameras. “They keep people honest who should be honest anyway.”
Stemp also suggested upgrading the department’s cruisers to the computer automated dispatch (CAD) system currently in use by Eaton Police and the Preble County Sheriff’s Office. The changeover would incur a one-time cost of $14,388 for installation and training, according to Stemp, as well as a yearly technical support fee of $1,100.
The Sheriff’s Office will likely require all local police departments to change over to their system eventually, according to Stemp, who also said that Camden would be able to upgrade for far less than Eaton PD and the Sheriff’s Office, who reportedly paid “a quarter of a million dollars” to acquire the system.
“We’ll just be coming on as new users,” Stemp said.
Council member Kelly Doran made a motion to move forward with the upgrade, which was seconded by Judy Michael. The measure was approved by unanimous vote.
Stemp indicated that the county Prosecutor’s Office might be willing to help the village out with the cost of purchasing additional body cameras; Doran asked Stemp to consult with them and then update the council during its next meeting.
In other business:
Council further discussed plans for a splash pad to be located in WaterWorks Park. Steele suggested building a path along the fenceline to eventually link up with the planned walking path along U.S. 127. Doran showed support for the idea.
“I’m all for any improvements we can make to our parks, because I think they’re a key feature of our community,” Doran said.
Mayor Karen Moss once again updated council on a planned performance by the U.S. Air Force Band of Flight. The group previously performed during Camden’s bicentennial celebration in Aug. 2018, and is now scheduled for a performance on Saturday, July 24 at 6 p.m. The event will be free of charge and open to the public.
Moss raised the issue of an in-door backup venue to be used for the event in case of rain. Doran suggested purchasing or renting a large tent.
Moss also suggested a theme for the concert honoring medical workers and first responders.
“I’d like to dedicate it to those that have served our nation and our community in that capacity,” Doran said.
Village Council meetings take place the first and third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Camden Town Hall.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish