Officers with the Elkin Police Department will soon join the ranks of law enforcement officials donning body cameras while on patrol.
The new cameras will be an addition to the in-car cameras already in use by the police department, explained Capt. Kim Robison Thursday.
She hopes to have the full implementation up and running in the next month, barring any unforeseen issues which might arise during installation.
The purchase of the seven body cameras also included seven new in-car cameras and computers which will be installed in the new police cars, Robison said. Once the installation is complete and the technology is ready, a representative from the camera company will travel to Elkin from Charlotte to train the officers on how to use them and download the footage.
“For now, we will have one body cam to a car. The only officer with their own personal camera will be the SRO [student resource officer],” Robison said, adding the state has opened a grant for which departments can apply for funding for additional cameras. She intends on applying for six more cameras, which would give each officer their own as part of their uniform and leave one for the auxiliary officers to use when they are on duty.
“There are several models and we looked at several when the chief and I were making the decision,” she said. “We reached out to other departments in the state to see what they were using.”
During the research process, Robison said Elkin officers tried body cams which clip on their glasses and others than go on their shoulder, but the ones chosen will clip on to the front of the officers’ shirts and they felt they were more secure and workable for Elkin.
The camera selected will be manually activated, but Robison said a policy is still being drafted on the use of the cameras. “I have developed [a policy] and it is on the chief’s desk to review and make any changes he wants.”
The process leading to the purchase of the cameras is one that is two years in the making, Robison explained. “It is a cost prohibitive thing, but as popularity and need has grown the prices have come down. We hope this new grant will allow smaller departments to get access, because their operational budgets are not there to get them.
“This hasn’t been an easy process. It’s taken two years to come up with something we’re comfortable we can use,” she said.
“The in-car camera will be a wireless download which will start automatically when the officers are close enough to the server for a direct download into the evidence room,” she said. “I’m still learning about the body cam, but the ones Jonesville uses they have to take the SD card out and download them. We just got these Tuesday so we are still learning.”
The decision to purchase the body cameras and the additional in-car cameras and new computers was made because Robison said that was easier than trying to keep up the 10-year-old system being used now.
She said the cost of the entire purchase — seven body cameras, seven in-car cameras and the computers and software — was between $37,000 and $40,000.
“The state grant is based off need and other factors with departments’ budgets, so I’m hoping to get enough to replace what we purchased so we can get the others. The grant would be just for the body cams,” she said.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.