Green Bay Police have sights set on body cameras, other equipment upgrades

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 10:58 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Green Bay police have been hoping to get body cameras for years. After civil unrest and recent calls for more transparency within police departments nationwide, Police Chief Andrew Smith hopes to move the cameras off of the department’s wish list.

On Tuesday, the city’s finance committee heard an update from police on what they have their sights set on.

“Our basic needs were really only met in what we found in Axon,” said Captain Ben Allen.

Axon develops technology such as body cameras, tasers, and information storage systems for police departments internationally.

The package police have their eyes on would provide more than just cameras.

“Axon has redaction software, they have servers, they have the evidence dot-com storage, they have the camera’s for the cars, they have the first rate cameras for bodies,” said Police Chief Andrew Smith.

Officers say one important feature of the body cameras is live view.

“At any point during a high risk or critical incident, from the shift commander’s position you can tap into live view of the officer’s body cams,” said Allen.

Upgrades to squad car dash cams and new tasers would also come with the package, another item Allen says are severely outdated.

“We have some of the original tasers going back to about 2005 that are still in service. Most of us don’t drive a vehicle that old, and yet we have a use-of-force tool that’s that old and then some,” said Allen.

It’s a purchase Chief Smith hopes can be made in conjunction with the Brown County Sheriff’s Office and Ashwaubenon Public Safety.

“For all the agencies, the big agencies, in the county to have the same platform makes sharing information a lot easier, makes storing information a lot easier, makes sharing information with the District Attorney’s office a lot easier as well,” said Chief Smith.

How much the body cameras and related software would cost has yet to be determined, but Chief Smith says Green Bay’s portion would exceed $2 million.

The Packers have also indicated it would help pay for a portion of the costs, but have not said how much.

The city council will hear a presentation on the body cameras at its meeting in December.

More financial details are expected to come back to the finance committee next month.

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