Van Buren Police Department now has body cams for all officers

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
The Van Buren Police Department has purchased 51 body cams to outfit their officers.

The Van Buren Police Department has started utilizing body cams for their entire police force.

The police department now has 51 body cams following the decision in 2020 to outfit the city's police with the equipment. 

"You see stories, good and bad, that happen with the community and the police," Jamie Hammond, VBPD police chief, said. "I thought this was the time for the community and our officers to have these cameras."

Before they received the new equipment the department only had a few body cams that could be used. According to Hammond, these were outdated and since there weren't enough to go around they weren't used. 

While looking through different vendors, the department decided to purchase their equipment through WatchGuard. With 51 cameras , the price was about $700 each.

The sales tax for public safety is utilized for the purchase and is paid for over a five-year period. 

WatchGuard allows for all footage to be collected onsite in a server in the police station. 

The original idea was that they would only purchase 15 cameras for the officers on the street, but Hammond said that a citizen asked at an advisory council meeting what would they do if they had an event that needed 16 officers. 

"There's training that goes with them," Hammond said. "How to use them and how to upload the videos. We just finally got that done."

Every officer in uniform is required to wear their camera at all times while on duty. There is a policy that explains when the camera should be activated. The camera itself is always on, but it must be activated to begin recording.