Government, Law, and Technology

GRPD makes move to body cameras

Department will have enough equipment to outfit all 300 officers.

September 25, 2015
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As early as October, 300 Grand Rapids police officers could be equipped with body cameras.

On Tuesday the Grand Rapids City Commission approved the Grand Rapids Police Department’s request to enter into a five-year contract with Taser International for the body cameras, software and electronic control devices, better known as Tasers.

“We are not waiting until we are faced with crisis,” Police Chief David Rahinsky said, in regard to implementing body cameras.

Grand Rapids citizens requested the body cameras for officers last December in response to several national incidents.

“Taser International’s Axon body cameras, with Evidence.com, is deemed the best system for the GRPD,” Rahinsky said, adding the total price tag is $1.7 million.

The proposal allows the GRPD to equip all 300 of its sworn members, which includes everyone authorized to make an arrest, with both a camera and Taser.

In part, Taser International was selected because its proposal bundles the body cameras and cloud-based storage with the Tasers, offering the best value for the department, Rahinsky said.

Currently only patrol personnel possess Tasers, he added.

The additional Tasers will allow for continuity in tools for all sworn officers no matter what position they have been assigned within the department.

The Tasers can be added to the GRPD at anytime, which allows the department to equip non-patrol personnel immediately and upgrade current Tasers as appropriate.

Police officers will receive training prior to the rollout of the body cameras and Tasers.

The proposal includes camera upgrades at two and a half years and five years, and all equipment is under warranty for the duration of the five years.

Total cost after discounts, trade-ins and reimbursements for the five-year proposal is $1,768,131.02.

GRPD is eligible for reimbursements from the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority of $208,600 — $500 per ECD and $200 per camera — due to the reduced liability risk.

According to a memo provided to the City Commission: “Research has shown that body-worn cameras have resulted in a reduction in use of force incidents and citizen complaints in the departments studied.”

City commissioners previously approved $674,124 in funds from the Transformation Budget to cover costs for the first two years of body cameras and storage.

These funds will still cover the new proposal for the first two years after eligible reimbursements. The remaining three years will be funded through the general budget.

Rahinsky said products from 10 companies were considered.

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