BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Maumee police officers will add body cameras to their uniforms, following action at the September 8 Maumee City Council meeting in which members unanimously approved the purchase of the new camera equipment.
“Events that have taken place across the country have made it clear that we are not being fair to our officers if we do not have them have body cameras on,” said Maumee Mayor Richard Carr, who requested the action.
The proposal calls for the purchase of 40 police body cameras – one for each officer – as well as 10 new police vehicle cameras and three new interview room cameras.
The total cost of the equipment and software, which will be purchased from Watch Guard, is $179,625 and includes a $20,600 discount for purchasing the body cameras, vehicle and interview room equipment all at once. The purchase also includes approximately $26,000 in annual maintenance fees, which will cover the first year of use. The equipment will be purchased using the B Fund, which covers capital expenditures.
Maumee Police Chief Dave Tullis had been researching body camera equipment for the past few years. The city planned to include the purchase in the 2021 budget, he said.
“With what is going on with the narrative in the country and the narrative in the media, it’s almost vital to us to have for our protection … those body cameras,” Tullis said.
Information from the cameras will be stored in the cloud and delivery of the new equipment should take 14 weeks. The cameras have to be in working condition 24/7, so every officer will wear a camera while on duty regardless of the situation. If there is a complaint, the camera provides an actual account of what happened, Tullis said.
“I don’t want any of our officers to be falsely accused of something,” he said.
Mayor Carr, who previously said that the city has lost significant revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to staff cuts in the city and pay reductions, believes the investment in body cameras needs to happen now.
“While we address the financial challenges in our city resulting from the pandemic, the protection of our police officers is too critical for what is going on in our community to wait,” he said.
Council member and former Police Chief Jim MacDonald said that the events and culture of atmosphere currently in the country make purchasing the cameras a “good move.”
“It’s a good move for our city, it’s a good move for our employees and it’s a good move for our public to see what our officers do and to be transparent. It’s very important,” MacDonald said.
Also at the meeting, council took the following action:
• Approved the resignation of Jason Maunz from the position of equipment operator, Department of Public Service, Water Division, effective August 7, 2020.
• Accepted the retirement of Bruce Mowery as equipment operator, Department of Public Service, Operations Division, effective October 30, 2020.
• Approved the purchase of a replacement copy machine at a cost of $5,860 plus a monthly fee for maintenance from Applied Imaging for the Water Division.
• Approved the transfer of $1,894.26 from the Maumee Municipal’s Court’s Special Projects Fund to cover a discrepancy from previous bookkeeping errors in the court’s criminal/traffic account.
• Declared six mobile data terminals as surplus property and agreed to donate them to Lucas County Emergency Services to be used in their life squads.
• Approved the purchase of one Tempest positive-pressure ventilation battery-powered blower from Finley Fire Equipment at a total cost of $4,625.
• Approved the purchase of one Hurst StrongArm kit from Finley Fire Equipment at a total cost of $7,150.
• Approved an ordinance authorizing levying special assessments for property owners’ share of the cost of lighting the streets and public ways in the city of Maumee.
• Approved an ordinance authorizing levying assessments for cutting of noxious weeds.
• Entered into executive session to discuss pending litigation.