Aurora City Council approves a $ 1 million contract for new body-worn police cameras

AURORA | Aurora Police Department is slated to get brand new body-worn cameras with more robust features in the next few months.

Aurora city council members unanimously approved the purchase of $ 1 million for cameras from Axon, which was considered a top seller when the city looked for new cameras last year.

The department will include around 800 cameras in the new procurement, enough to provide a device for every sworn officer and comply with state laws passed last summer.

Extensive legislation, known as Senate Bill 217, mandates that all state officials – from homicide detectors to police officers who sit at a desk and digitally sign accident reports – must be equipped with cameras by July 2023.

The new devices have automatic sensors that begin recording when an officer turns on his cruiser’s lights or reaches for his weapon, the latter being crucial for Chief Vanessa Wilson.

“What I get excited about with these is when you turn your overheads on and then when you draw your gun it goes on, which is really good,” she said.

City documents indicate that the cameras will also be activated when an officer reaches for the latest version of Taser, which is expected to be rolled out later this year.

The cameras also use what are known as geo-fences, which they turn on when they are near certain areas or people. Agent Matt Longshore, spokesman for Aurora Police, said if an officer approaches a scene with the camera off, the device can detect if other cameras are on and will activate itself.

He added the devices are also more securely attached to officer’s uniforms. Both the public and police officers have lamented the lousy construction of the holsters used to secure the department’s current equipment.

All three officers who arrested Elijah McClain had moved their cameras during the hugely criticized clash along Billings Street in 2019. As a result, the video of the footage of the incident was largely obscured, which became a recurring complaint among activists and protesters in the months that followed.

The city bought hundreds of upgraded clips in an emergency to better secure the cameras in the months after McClain’s death.

Although the new clips can still easily fall off during hand-to-hand combat, Longshore says the new holster mechanism is superior to the plastic alligator clips used in the past.

“The cameras are now much less likely to fall than they were three years ago,” he said of the new devices.

The contract with Axon has a term of five years and includes the replacement of all hardware in 2024, including “upgrading to new generations if these are available at no additional cost”, according to the city documents.

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