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City council approves purchase of recording equipment for police department

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
Body cams and in-car recording equipment will be purchased for the Van Buren Police Department.

The Van Buren City Council passed an ordinance on Dec. 28 allowing the purchase of new in-car video and wearable camera equipment for the police department. The cost of the equipment will add up to $317,571 and will be paid out over four years in annual installments

According to Police Chief Jamie Hammond, the cameras that the department currently has are not reliable and require an upgrade. Hammond wants to supply every one of his officers with a camera. 

"They will be responsible for that camera," said Hammond. "We will have a policy that dictates when they wear it, when they turn it on, and when they turn it off."

The cameras will be purchased from WatchGuard, a company based out of Chicago. Hammond hopes that the new cameras will not only protect the police but the community as well.

"Its been proven over and over that when someone knows they are being recording they won't act how they would otherwise," Hammond said. 

The purchase of the video equipment will be paid for through the county sales tax: 12.5% of the county's sales taxes goes toward police and currently there is $349,375 budgeted for next year. This includes the fire department as well. 

According to Van Buren Mayor Joe Hurst, when the police department advisory council was formed, one of the recommendations that came from the council was video equipment.

"This is going to help keep everybody safer," said Hurst. 

Councilman Tyler Wood stated that it's probably tied for first as one of the top recommendations from the council. 

Hammond says that the life expectancy of the equipment is about four or five years, but the body cameras come with a warranty. In the event that a camera breaks under warranty, it will be replaced. The footage will be stored in servers on-site at the police department.