More Cameras, Technology For Police Vehicles Approved

OCEAN CITY – The use of last year’s Homeland Security Grant to enhance the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) in-car technology was approved this week, including the addition of more cameras in police cruisers.

OCPD Lt. Elton Harmon requested the Mayor and City Council consider the use of almost $17,000 from the Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12) Homeland Security Grant for the enhancement of the Police In-Car Technology project.

According to Harmon, the $16,845 will further the expansion of the department’s In Car Camera program (ICAIR) and supplement equipment related to the enhancement of Police In-Car Technology.

The purchase includes three in-car camera systems to increase the availability of in car cameras from nine to 12 in the fleet as well as purchase one L-tron scanner to allow the continuation of the E-Tix program; purchase one digital wireless microphone to be used in conjunction with the in car cameras; purchase four rugged USB hubs to enhance the USB connection for existing CF30 laptops mounted in vehicle; and purchase four HID OMNIKEY proximity card readers to continue the advance authentication program.

Acting Chief Michael Colbert submitted the OCPD began its research into digital in-car camera systems in October 2007. At that time, seven manufacturers provided demonstrations of their product to a test-group comprised of police personnel and I.T. personnel. From these demonstrations, two manufacturers were selected for an on-site test and evaluation.

Based upon the results of field tests and references from other law enforcement agencies, the Panasonic Arbitrator was selected. The Panasonic Arbitrator is used widely throughout the country and the State with excellent results.

As a result, the OCPD purchased a total of nine camera systems from Brekford that are currently in use. Brekford is the sole company who will sell and install the Panasonic Arbitrator on site and will cost around $15,000.

“The cameras are used not only for evidentiary purposes for us during stops but it also is a tool for us to police ourselves,” Harmon explained. “Often times, we receive complaints and we are able to go back and watch what happened, the video and audio captured, and see for ourselves.”

The next part to the proposal is to purchase the equipment needed for the enhancement and continuation of in-car technology. Based on research and previous purchases, Brekford is the sole vendor at the total cost of about $1,500.

With the budget process for the next fiscal year approaching in the next couple of weeks, Councilwoman Margaret Pillas was concerned the expenditure of grant funds wasn’t being prioritized over other expenditures to be requested.

“I know there are gaps in the budget and I am hoping that we can see what is really essential and what we don’t have to purchase … let’s just say there is something else in the police budget that does come out of the general fund, and this money can be used for it,” she said.

Ocean City Grant Coordinator Wayne Pryor explained when the town receives grants such as Homeland Security a public safety group meets and prioritizes the police department’s needs.

“It does not come out of your general fund, it does not affect capital purchases in any way,” Pryor said. “It is a reimbursable grant and you just have to follow purchasing guidelines when you purchase this equipment.”

The council voted 5-0, with Council President Lloyd Martin and Councilman Joe Mitrecic absent, to approve the grant expenditure to enhance the Police In-Car Technology project.

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