Troy City Council approves purchase of new body-worn and in-car cameras

New tech allows witnesses to share photos, videos with officers in secure link shared in a phone app

By: Jonathan Shead | Troy Times | Published July 15, 2021

 A product photo of the Axon body-worn cameras purchased by the Troy Police Department.

A product photo of the Axon body-worn cameras purchased by the Troy Police Department.

Image taken from Axon Enterprises website

 A product photo of the Axon in-car cameras purchased by the Troy Police Department.

A product photo of the Axon in-car cameras purchased by the Troy Police Department.

Image taken from Axon Enterprises website

TROY — All Troy police officers will soon be patrolling the community with new video surveillance equipment, including 115 new body-worn cameras, 44 in-car cameras and 115 new stun guns after the City Council unanimously approved the purchase at their June 28 meeting.

“It’s nice to see this project getting into the final stages. Our City Council is consistently a strong supporter of our department. This is just another example of them working with us to provide our officers with the tools and resources they need to protect our community,” Troy Police Chief Frank Nastasi said in an email.

During fall 2020, the department tested three different vendors’ body cameras before deciding to purchase the new equipment from Scottsdale, Arizona-based Axon Enterprises Inc., which are currently used by the Royal Oak, Madison Heights and Southfield Police Departments.

The city will pay just over $1.5 million in total for the equipment over five years.

In the first year, the city will pay $335,469.30 for the body cameras and stun guns, as well as outfitting the Police Department’s 44-car fleet. The city will pay $293,052.30 in the second through fifth years. A $20,700 trade-in value for the departments’ current stun guns and a $103,684.70 discount for signing the purchase agreement before July 1 are reflected in the equipment’s total.

The first years’ payment will be paid for through the Police Department’s 2022 fiscal year forfeiture fund, rather than out of taxpayers’ pockets, Councilman David Hamilton said at the June 28 meeting. Future payments may also be partially paid for through forfeiture funds and capital project funds.

“That’s fantastic. It’s a large expense, but we spare no expense when it comes to our Police Department here in Troy. I’m glad to support this,” Hamilton said.

The move to purchase all-new video surveillance equipment and stun guns came because of outdated equipment, Nastasi explained. The department’s current stun guns are more than seven years old, and its in-car cameras are 12 years old. “They are no longer making the model or replacement parts for what is currently in our patrol cars,” he said.

“Adding individual body-worn cameras enhances community trust and transparency. We are now able to show video of officer interactions that might not have been captured by the current in-car cameras. This is a fully integrated system with cloud storage, service and support for 115 Tasers, body-worn cameras, and 44 in-car cameras.”

Despite older equipment currently being used, Councilwoman Ellen Hoderek said the department didn’t rush into the decision, and she was glad of that.

“Body camera technology is not easy. … If we don’t get this right, we could really regret not having taken the proper time to do it right,” she said June 28. “I think it serves members of the public, and I know it also serves our police officers really well when this is done right. Our Police Department is a very valuable member of our community. That community policing and that trust, and the work we do with one another, is what makes Troy a safe city. We have to have that trust. We have to be able to have that transparency, and we need to do it with the right technology. If we’re going to do it, we need to do it right.”

The department is hoping to have the new equipment in use in the field in the fall, Nastasi said.

“That’s an extremely aggressive goal,” Troy police Capt. Tom Gordon said at the City Council meeting June 28. “We’ve had very good luck with our sales rep, and I think because of the size of our agency and the equipment we have, we might be able to jump to the front of the line and get some of the equipment a little sooner than we had hoped.”

The purchase costs include training for the department’s officers, Nastasi said.

“Axon will send representatives and provide initial training when the equipment is first installed,” he said. “Officers will also have access to Axon’s go-live training, which provides individual online training for device setup and configuration assistance.”

Overall, he hopes the new equipment will help continue to build trust and accountability between department personnel and the community they serve. “This system also provides a feature that allows residents, business owners and witnesses to share photos and videos to a responding officer through a secure link shared in a phone app,” Nastasi said.

For more information, visit troymi.gov.