Warren police getting body cams this summer

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published June 7, 2021

 Cpl. Brandon Roy of the Warren Police Department told council members that the Axon Body 3 camera system emerged as the “clear front-runner” during the department’s testing and evaluation of equipment from two vendors.

Cpl. Brandon Roy of the Warren Police Department told council members that the Axon Body 3 camera system emerged as the “clear front-runner” during the department’s testing and evaluation of equipment from two vendors.

Screen capture from Warren City Council meeting by Zoom video

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WARREN — Body cameras, in-car cameras for police vehicles and video equipment for four interview rooms are part of a technology upgrade coming to the Warren Police Department this summer.

Applauded as a “force multiplier” for law enforcement officers tasked with doing an often dangerous and difficult job in 2021, all uniformed Warren police personnel will be outfitted with Axon body cameras as part of the $1,752,000 investment by the city over a five-year period. Members of the Warren City Council voted unanimously on May 11 to approve an initial appropriation of $500,828.

“That’s for the cameras, docking stations, license fees, cloud storage, mounting, hardware and the in-car camera equipment, including the body cams, and the installation of the cameras in the interview rooms, also, and the warranty,” Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said after the meeting.

Deputy Police Commissioner Robert Ahrens, Warren Police Cpl. Brandon Roy, City Councilman Garry Watts and Purchasing Agent Craig Treppa sat on a committee tasked with evaluating bids from Axon and one other vendor. In May, Roy told council members that Axon emerged as the “clear front-runner” based on the testing and evaluations performed by the department.

“It wouldn’t be just cameras. It would be an entire suite of services and software that would come with these cameras,” Roy said. “It would be an entire suite of software that would be a force multiplier for the Police Department, and really expand our capabilities beyond just the body-worn cameras and the cameras inside of the cars.

“We’ve got a lot of officer safety enhancements, including GPS from the physical devices. These devices can even detect the sounds of gunshots and automatically initiate a recording,” Roy said. “We can use this system to reach out to citizens so they can submit digital evidence to us directly. We can share digital evidence secretly with our law enforcement and criminal justice partners. A lot of those things just weren’t possible with the competitors in this space.”

Dwyer said the department’s officers were in support of adding the cameras to their list of equipment. A total of 170 Axon Body 3 cameras will be purchased. The city also bought in-car cameras for 60 police vehicles, and cameras for four interview rooms.

“The officers throughout the country want and need these body cams. They want them. They want to wear them. They want to be able to protect themselves against false allegations,” Dwyer said.

He said statistics show that body cameras reduce the number of allegations leveled against officers, that they contribute to a reduction in use of force and increase the number of guilty pleas among defendants.  

“The officers in this department want the cameras yesterday,” Dwyer said. “They’re excited about it. That may not have been the case across the country three years ago.”

Added benefits include investigative security enhancements, such as the ability to redact and share video.

“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a long period of time,” Dwyer said.

He added that now was the best time to move forward, because many of the features offered by today’s Axon system weren’t available until recently.

“It’s a very sophisticated system offering a lot more than body cameras,” Dwyer said. “It’s an essential tool today.”

He called the technology rollout “a major program” and said the cameras were expected to be in the field by mid-July.

“This is going to be great for the department and the city,” Watts said before the City Council took its vote to approve the appropriation.

“It’s going to protect our officers and the city’s position many times over against the criminal element,” Warren City Councilman Jonathan Lafferty said.

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