La Plata po­lice re­quest equip­ment up­grades, body cam­eras

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews

The La Plata Po­lice Depart­ment ap­proached the town coun­cil dur­ing its work ses­sion this week to re­quest in-car video tech­nol­ogy and up­dated com­puter sys­tems to be fit­ted into the depart­ment’s re­cently re­quested po­lice ve­hi­cles.

The depart­ment also re­quested and pre­sented quotes for Pana­sonic body cam­eras that will work hand-in-hand with the in-car tech­nol­ogy, for the whole body cam­era pro­gram.

Ac­cord­ing to Carl Schin­ner, La Plata Chief of Po­lice, dur­ing the fis­cal year 2016-2017 bud­get process, the depart­ment re­quested and was pro­vided fund­ing to pur­chase per­sonal body cam­eras for of­fi­cers on front­line pa­trol through a grant from the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment In­sur­ance Trust (LGIT) in the amount of $5,000 to sup­ple­ment the cost of the new tech­nol­ogy. The coun­cil pro­vided an ad­di­tional $13,000 in fund­ing to com­plete the pur­chase.

The depart­ment rec­om­mended the pur­chase of the Pana­sonic per­sonal body cam­era sys­tem be­cause the cam­eras in­te­grate with the depart­ment’s new Pana­sonic Ar­bi­tra­tor in-car cam­era sys­tem. Schin­ner said the Ar­bi­tra­tor sys­tem has worked seam­lessly for the depart­ment since Breck­ford Cor­po­ra­tion, a tech­nol­ogy com­pany based in Hanover, in­stalled the units. The sys­tem is tam­per proof, he said, and when an of­fi­cer ar­rives at the sta­tion each day for roll call, the data from the cam­era sys­tem au­to­mat­i­cally down­loads. There are no discs or tapes that need to be re­moved.

“These are nec­es­sary soft­ware up­grades,” Schin­ner said. “With this tech­nol­ogy we can never be ac­cused of go­ing back and edit­ing our videos. Even though the of­fi­cers can view the video in their cars to go back and view a case, they still can­not tam­per with it what­so­ever.”

Ac­cord­ing to Schin­ner, the to­tal cost for 13 Pana­sonic body cam­eras is now $32,125. The com­bined fund­ing of the LGIT grant and the dol­lars ap­proved in the FY 2016-2017 bud­get are $18,000, there­fore an ad­di­tional $14,125 would be needed to move the body cam­era project for­ward.

Ac­cord­ing to Schin­ner, in the last two years, the po­lice depart­ment uti­lized the ser­vices of a pro­fes­sional up-fit­ter to in­stall new agency ve­hi­cles with emer­gency equip­ment, as well as com­put­ers and in-car video tech­nolo­gies. The cost of up-fit­ting and tech­nol­ogy up­grades were in­cluded in the cost of the three new pa­trol units in the FY 2016-2017 bud­get.

“The po­lice depart­ment is sat­is­fied with the ve­hi­cles that have been pro­fes­sion­ally up­fit­ted these past two years by Breck­ford Cor­po­ra­tion,” Schin­ner said. “Prior to hav­ing the ve­hi­cles pro­fes­sion­ally up­fit­ted, the depart­ment of­ten ex­pe­ri­enced fin­ger-point­ing over the re­spon­si­bil­ity of re­pairs. This led to ve­hi­cle down­time and of­ten­times un­nec­es­sary ex­pen­di­ture to have a prob­lem re­solved.”

Breck­ford Cor­po­ra­tion holds the state’s twoway ra­dio and as­so­ci­ated equip­ment and ser­vices con­tract. The cost of emer­gency equip­ment and its pro­fes­sional up­fit­ting into three new pa­trol units is $29,805. The cost of four semi-ruggedi­zed com­put­ers (with touch­screen op­tion) and four in-car cam­eras, to in­clude up­fit­ting, is $41,179. The to­tal cost is $70,984.

Schin­ner said the up-fit­ting process on the po­lice ve­hi­cles takes about three days to com­plete.

“The chal­lenge is when an­other po­lice depart­ment’s po­lice cars gets there be­fore you,” Schin­ner said. “Usu­ally Breck­ford does a good job of up­fit­ting mul­ti­ple agen­cies at one time, so that’s why we would like to get our cars or­dered quickly and get them to Breck­ford be­fore we get be­hind the other po­lice depart­ments. I feel bad that it is cost­ing more than than we orig­i­nally thought but, in the long run, we ac­tu­ally end up sav­ing the town more prob­lems.”

“I like hav­ing a sin­gle com­pany do­ing all of the in­stal­la­tions so that way if there is any in­ter­fer­ence be­tween the ra­dios, com­put­ers and other tech­nol­ogy, there is no fin­ger-point­ing be­cause it would be done in one place,” Coun­cil­man Keith Back said. “Be­ing tied to­gether by the same sys­tem is good and a nice fea­ture.”

At the work ses­sion, the coun­cil al­lowed the po­lice depart­ment to move for­ward with its per­sonal body cam­era pro­gram. Town Man­ager Daniel Mears said part of the process is to ask the town coun­cil for au­tho­riza­tion of large pur­chases, so it will be pre­sented at the next town coun­cil busi­ness meet­ing for adop­tion.

“Once the body cam­eras ar­rive and of­fi­cers are trained in how to use them, all front-line LPPD of­fi­cers will be equipped with the new tech­nol­ogy,” Schin­ner said.

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