Clayton considering body cameras for police officers

Clayton police could outfit its officers with body-worn cameras as early as January for the first time. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF
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Clayton police could outfit its officers with body-worn cameras as early as January for the first time. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF

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Clayton police could outfit its officers with body-worn cameras as early as January for the first time.

Police Chief Matt Hamlin has asked city council to consider a five-year contract with Utility for the purchase of body cameras and other equipment for $130,000.

“I think more departments are going to body cameras for transparency. I think with this current climate residents and people in general want transparency and body cameras do offer that,” Hamlin said.

While this would be the first time the officers would have cameras on their person, the department has had in-car cameras for the last 20 years but wouldn’t capture an entire incident if the officer moves away from the vehicle.

The city has been looking into getting body cameras for police for several months.

“Everybody’s on board, I think this is something that the council has been looking at for a while and like everything it comes down to money and whether or not you have the money to fund it and I think that it has become priority now,” said Clayton City Manager Amanda Zimmerlin.

The contract will cover outfitting 17 officers with the cameras and eight cruisers with equipment.

“The equipment consists of cameras for each officer, modems for our eight vehicles to operate the cameras and upload the data in the secured cloud, installation of holster sensors, body camera mounts for our outside tactical vests, installation of redaction software, training for the officers on the cameras capabilities as well as the software, etc.,” he said.

Zimmerlin said this would be a way for public safety members to remain open and honest with the community.

“I think in general they’re a very good tool for accountability. I think that we have officers who are very dedicated to what they do and I think that body cameras will continue to show the community that we are here to serve them,” she said.

While the policy for the cameras is still being worked out, the officers wearing the cameras will keep them on when they’re dispatched to a call.

“We are currently going through a best practice process for establishing a policy on body camera use for the patrol officers and SROs at Northmont High School and Northmont Middle School, and then training for the officers on the policy,” said Hamlin.

If approved, the cameras will be included as part of the 2021 budget. City council will vote on it Dec. 17 during its meeting.

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