Gainesville police officers will be equipped with new body cameras next year.
Gainesville City Council members authorized City Manager Barry Sullivan to enter into a 5-year contract with Utility Associates, Inc. to provide mobile video recording equipment, body-worn cameras and a cloud-based digital evidence management system for the Gainesville Police Department.
The five-year project is estimated to cost $39,000 annually for a total of $195,000, according to information provided to council members.
Gainesville Police Chief Kevin Phillips said there was money earmarked in the 2017-18 fiscal year budget for video equipment.
Sullivan and Phillips said there have been issues with the body-worn cameras currently in use and they have been looking at ways to rectify the situation.
“They have been very unreliable. I believe we currently have six down,” Phillips said.
Phillips said the new cloud-based storage system will come in handy for those working in the Criminal Investigations Division because the video will be uploaded via the internet and allow investigators to share a link with the Cooke County Attorney’s office and the District Attorney’s office.
Currently, the agency houses an on-site server to store video data which requires investigators to burn DVDs.
“Sometimes we are burning two or three DVDs per case,” he said. “The time it takes to burn the discs is really slowing down our CID.”
Sullivan said the time saved by personnel results in an estimated $80,000 in savings over the course of the five-year contract.
“That’s not an $80,000 savings that you are going to see in cash,” Sullivan said. “That represents the time that our detectives will save over five years and can actually focus on additional cases and building additional cases instead of spending time recording videos. That is a huge positive for the department.”
The city requested bids in September and received five proposals.
The winning bid from Decatur, Georgia-based Utility Associates, Inc. includes 32 body cameras and 10 in-car video systems, according to Phillips.
The department has 32 patrol personnel, six investigators and four members of command staff, Phillips said.
He said he wasn’t sure when the new equipment was going to come in but that it could take about 90 days.