Roseville police receive tech updates in $2M contract

By: Nick Powers | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 18, 2024

File photo


ROSEVILLE — The Roseville City Council unanimously approved several technology updates to the Police Department with a 10-year, $2,320,907 contract with Axon at its June 11 meeting.

The contract provides a number of updates, but centers around new Tasers, body cameras and dash cameras. Axon will train the department on how to use the new technology. The contract requires Axon to replace equipment when it becomes outdated or broken.

Roseville Police Chief Mitch Berlin said the current body cameras were in disrepair and the department wasn’t able to get replacements. Another police department gave Roseville two dashboard cameras. The department had previously attempted to get refurbished dashboard cameras from the manufacturer. The department reportedly asked for 10 but only received two.

“The system is going to fail here any day,” Berlin said.

Berlin said the department currently uses Axon Tasers, but the equipment is no longer covered by Axon’s liability shield. The new Tasers have a range that is 20 feet greater than the old ones.

“It is more like a firearm when you discharge it,” Berlin said regarding the trajectory of the Taser’s probes. “They go straight when they hit a target instead of straying off target like they do now.”

When a Taser or firearm is drawn, the new body camera automatically will turn on, even if the officer doesn’t manually do it, according to Berlin. He said the camera is always recording. The cameras also capture a larger view when recording.

The dashboard cameras have license plate readers built in and can alert officers in real time about a vehicle that’s flagged. These cameras, like the body cameras, capture a wider view.

Berlin highlighted Axon’s evidence management software that the department will now utilize as well. This frees up officers from having to manage files they collect, such as photos and videos, and sends the information directly to the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office.

“It’s going to keep our officers on the street more,” Berlin said. “It’s going to keep them freed up to do what they should be doing: being out on the street instead of inside cataloging photos and videos.”

The department will also receive a new drone with the updated contract, bringing its total number of drones to four. All the department’s drones are compatible with Axon. Berlin said Roseville currently uses one large drone on the streets and two small drones for the SWAT team. Video from the drones now will automatically be sent to the Police Department.

“With this, it’s all done simultaneously,” Berlin said.

Some other police departments that currently utilize Axon include Warren, Eastpointe and Troy.

Council member Jan Haggerty questioned how the contract was going to be paid for and recommended that some of the cost be covered by the department’s forfeiture fund.

“I’m a little concerned about such a big hit to our general fund, because we don’t know what’s going to happen down the road,” Haggerty said.

Though Berlin was willing to utilize these funds, this was left off the motion. He mentioned that the department is working with Team Roe, the grant writing company contracted through the city, to capture grant funding for some of the cost.

Later, City Manager Ryan Monroe said the expense had already been budgeted for and would come out of the equipment replacement fund in the budget. Though no one at the meeting had an exact figure for the forfeiture account, Monroe estimated only 10% of the cost could come from it.

“Those funds are in that fund basically waiting for your approval tonight to move forward with that purchase,” Monroe said about the equipment replacement fund.

On an annual basis, the cost to the city for the contract will be $232,091. Funds from the equipment replacement fund are drawn out of the general fund. This year’s budget lays out $232,091 for these expenditures, but, according to Roseville Controller John Walters, the city is hoping to get money from grant funding.

“We’re still going to try to get grant funding,” Walters said. “If we do, great; it’ll offset some of these costs.”

While there is enough money to cover the cost now, Walters said this may need to be adjusted for future budgets. This will depend on grant funding that comes in.

Council members Steven Wietecha and Kurmmell Knox came out strongly in favor of not using the forfeiture funds for the contract.

“I think this is an allowable expense we need to address,” Knox said. “If we can’t do that with the general fund, then why are we even operating as a city?”

Wietecha made a motion, supported by Council member Bill Shoemaker, to approve the contract utilizing the general fund and potential grant money. The motion did not include utilizing forfeiture funds. Despite some hesitancy about where the money was coming from, the vote for approving the contract was unanimous.