City Manager Stephanie Cutter and Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Chief Julie Tolbert announced today they've "put together a plan to purchase body cameras, Taser upgrades and a digital evidence management system," a police spokesman says.
The City Manager will present the proposal to City Council on Thursday, Oct. 16.
Chief Tolbert is requesting 360 body cameras, enough to outfit all patrol, traffic, K-9, and mounted patrol officers. "The contract with Taser International would include the purchase of 200 Taser upgrades, a digital management system, and the body cameras would be added at no additional cost," police say.
“Nationwide we are seeing agencies outfit their officers because of liability concerns and because the cameras reduce citizen complaints and improve officer safety and we are no different,” Tolbert said. “My officers would love to have body cameras. Accusations and allegations are made against them all the time and body cameras are an easy way to review the case quickly.”
The camera will be worn at eye level and will record video and audio. "Officers will be responsible for placing the devices on docking stations after they complete their shift," we're told, and furthermore "the video will be uploaded to an external site and it cannot be edited or deleted."
“This is going to improve the professionalism of our officers and will benefit our community in many ways. This agency is also looking for ways to improve our quality of service and be more transparent,” said SCMPD Training Director Gary Taylor.
Taylor said if the body cameras are approved by City Council, it will take a while to receive the equipment and provide the officers with the necessary training. The goal is to start outfitting officers with this technology in early 2015.