From the perspective of officials in Keego Harbor, body cameras for police officers are a way of protecting both officers and residents. Body cameras were approved at a City Council meeting in December.

From the perspective of officials in Keego Harbor, body cameras for police officers are a way of protecting both officers and residents. Body cameras were approved at a City Council meeting in December.

Photo provided by John Fitzgerald

Body cameras approved for Keego Police

‘It protects the residents and the officers’

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published January 20, 2024


KEEGO HARBOR — The Keego Harbor Police Department recently became one of the many departments across the country to be approved for body cameras for patrol officers.

Body cameras for officers were unanimously approved by Keego’s City Council members at a City Council meeting Dec. 21.

Keego Police Chief John Fitzgerald said it was his request that officers be equipped with body cameras.

“We’ll get a lot better coverage of what our officers are doing out there,” Fitzgerald said at the City Council meeting. “This is an investment protecting the city; it’s an investment protecting our officers from claims that come in, and it’s an investment (for) our citizens and the people passing through our town, protecting them. So, we do need a camera system.”

In an interview with the Beacon, Fitzgerald estimated that the cameras would arrive in one to three months.

Axon is the company that is set to supply the cameras, at a total cost of $64,818.50, according to information provided at the City Council meeting.

The payments are to be spread out over the course of five years, with no interest.

Fitzgerald said that $20,000 of that cost is being covered by a grant.

“We’re breaking the payments up over five years, so it takes less of a hit on the city budget … and also working with the grant that we have,” he said. “No grants will cover all of it, but we’re trying to reduce the costs to the taxpayers as much as possible.”

The five-year payment plan calls for an annual payment of $12,963.70.

“I think this is a great thing for the city,” City Council member Theresa Shimansky said at the meeting. “It protects the residents and the officers. Having gone without (it) this long, I’m surprised we’ve been able to get away with it for as long as we have. … I’m really glad this is coming into place.”

Keego Mayor Rob Kalman said that body cameras for officers is something that has been talked about in the city for two years.

“We’ve talked for a long time about it,” Kalman said at the meeting. “I’m happy we’re investing in our public safety.”

Keego Councilman Joel Ross also weighed in on officers being equipped with body cameras.

“Based on my limited knowledge, I think (the) chief made a great choice,” Ross said at the meeting.

Fitzgerald said that Keego has had in-car cameras for years. There are currently four police vehicles in the city.

Keego currently employs nine police officers, with 10 body cameras being approved at the City Council meeting.

“That’ll be part of the policy, that every officer will have one on,” Fitzgerald said. “Whoever’s working will be wearing one.”

From Fitzgerald’s perspective, the cameras are a way of affirming that Keego’s officers do things correctly.

“The nice thing is, I think it will show that almost all the time the officers are out there doing the right thing,” he said. “Our city has shown that, in terms of limited problems or complaints that we’ve had. This will really be able to back ’em up and show that they are doing the right thing out there, and they’ll know that if they do the wrong thing, they’re gonna be caught — so it works both ways.”

Kalman is also of the opinion that body cameras are a way of protecting both citizens and officers.

“Public safety, it’s a major way people evaluate the quality of life in a community, and … having a police department that’s well-staffed, trained and equipped is crucial to ensuring neighborhood safety,” Kalman said in an interview with the Beacon. “We’ve had cameras (in vehicles) monitoring traffic stops. Now we’re able to provide body-worn cameras for all our officers. I believe wearing cameras … deters rational people from doing some stupid things.”

From Kalman’s perspective, cameras show that officers are “typically doing the right thing.”

He explained the protocol if a civilian were to issue a complaint against an officer.

“First step, they go to the police chief,” Kalman said. “We’ve got a great police chief. He handles things.”

Fitzgerald shared another advantage of Keego’s officers wearing body cameras.

“The Prosecutor’s Office prefers to have as much video of incidents as they can, and having these body cams will give us an opportunity to collect more evidence of what’s going on with the subjects we’re dealing with and scenes we’re at,” he said.