Local police officers will receive body cams

Sally Wegert

The Bowling Green Police Department will be buying body cameras for local officers. This new equipment budget was approved in a Bowling Green City Commission meeting Tuesday, Sept. 20.

The BGPD intends to purchase 94 body cameras in total, and it will cost more than $75,000 to do so. This cost is accounted for by a new equipment budget of $200,000 given to the BGPD.

“This week it’s Christmas for the police department,” Commissioner Melinda Hill said, laughing as the total expense amount was stated to the City Hall chamber.

Hill, who was first elected in 2011, recalled the proposal of body camera technology for the police department 18 months prior at a Commission retreat. The decision of the city commission at that time was to delay purchase in hopes of an eventual cost reduction, which has now occurred.

“At the time we decided to look into this idea, the technology was not widely used, but in high demand,” Police Chief Doug Hawkins said.

When the idea was first discussed, the individual cameras sold for approximately $900. Now, they are listed at $400 each, making a $40,000 difference in the total cost.

“We’re thrilled that we’re finally in a financial position as a city to provide for the police department in this way,” Hill said. “They’ve done their homework and saved the city $40,000.”

The department intends to purchase the cameras and the accompanying hardware to store the large amount of footage from COBAN Technologies. Hawkins said the BGPD doesn’t anticipate receiving many requests for footage from the body cameras, but knows “it only takes one event” to provide cause.

“We don’t know what our experience is going to be, but hopefully we’ll be prepared in any case,” Hawkins said.

While the BGPD aimed to have the cameras and associated technology purchased by the end of the week, it does not intend to have them fully implemented until early 2017.

Reporter Sally Wegert can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].