Why Upland Is Replacing Its Police Body Cameras After 3 Years

UPLAND, CA — Looking to replace faulty and outdated body-worn cameras for its police force, the Upland City Council unanimously agreed to spend $240,000 over a five-year period.

The city will buy 80 Axon Body 2 cameras as well as a five-year warranty plan. Axon Enterprise, the manufacturer of both cameras, will completely replace the equipment, cameras and batteries, at the two-and-half-year mark and five-year mark of the contract, said interim Police Chief Douglas Millmore.

“We field tested that camera, and it far exceeded the performance of the ones we currently have,” he told the council Monday night.

Upland will pay $49,900 in the first year and then $47,500 the following four years. The contract also includes five additional cameras as spare backup devices.

Three years ago, the city purchased body-worn cameras for the entire police department to improve the transparency and trust with the public. That $84,000 contract also came with a one-year warranty.

“After the first year, which was the life of the battery; we had to beg, borrow, and scrounge to piecemeal the system together,” Millmore said.

It continued to work until the third year, in 2016. During that year, Upland spent $3,000 in repairs and new batteries, Millmore said.

This year, the department spent $11,000, he added.

But the last straw came last year when the manufacturer stopped making the equipment.

The department began to experience issues: batteries needed replacement, the camera would fall off officers, and faulty connections would prevent events from being properly recorded.

The current equipment, the Axon Flex cameras, comes in three pieces. The camera is worn on the collar of the officers and connected to a battery pack through a cable.

“We’ve seen, frequently, where the camera becomes dislodged and upon viewing the film you can see the camera tumbling off in one direction and the officer off in the distance,” he said.

The other problem often occurs as the officer is getting out of the car. As they’re preparing to make a contact, they’ll press the button to start recording, but “because of the loose connection it wouldn’t start recording and the officer would be well into the conversation before they realize the red light wasn’t on,” Millmore said.

The Axon Body 2 cameras are one unit — the power source is in the unit, he told the council.

Councilman Gino Filippi favored the replacement equipment, saying it was a necessity to help keep officers safe and to record the incidents correctly.

“If you’ve failed to provide this type of equipment to the men and women of the department, you’ve not only failed our employees but our residents and businesses as well. It’s an upgrade and a vital necessity,” he said.

Millmore agreed, saying there’s a benefit to the city to have the cameras in the event that an allegation is made in a use-of-force incident, or any kind of complaint, then “that equipment can effectively clear the officer in a matter of seconds.”

There’s another benefit for the switch.

The software licensing that goes with the equipment, Evidence.com, is the same system and database that’s used by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office, he said.

Being on the same system reduces the district attorney’s costs for producing discovery when it’s requested. It also saves the police department time from having to retrieve and package the data, Millmore said.

“They can get the data with a few keystrokes,” he told the council.

From The Daily Bulletin

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