LIMA — Lima Police Department body cameras will be going live in roughly two months, thanks to Lima City Council unanimously approving a contract with WatchGuard Inc. to purchase the equipment Monday night during its regular meeting.
“It has been quite a process,” Maj. Jim Baker said while addressing council. “I know that it feels like an eternity, but it hasn’t been that long.”
Body camera discussions began in September 2016 with strong support for their implementation due to multiple complaints from residents of alleged abuse from Lima police officers. But when the system’s complexity became apparent, city officials said they wanted to do their due diligence on what ended up being a $480,000 investment.
Baker said the police department began forming a body camera policy group involving many different community players, including representatives from the Lima Area Black Ministerial Alliance, Crime Victim Services and local hospitals and schools. Discussions resulted in a 35-criteria request for proposal that failed to find a bidder within the first round.
A second round ended with WatchGuard Inc. as the single bidder.
Baker said the department tested many different cameras to find the perfect fit. Considerations included connectivity, durability, ease of use, download speeds and connectivity. But one of the major positives of the final system is that in three years, WatchGuard will replace every single camera.
“That was a nice pick, a great company,” 6th Ward Councilor Derry Glenn said. “It was a win-win for us.”
Once the contract is approved, the bidder will have 30 days to ship the cameras to the station. Baker expects another 30 days for officer training and cruiser installation. When finished within an expected 60 days, each officer and cruiser will be equipped with a camera.
“On behalf of the Black Ministerial Alliance, I want to thank Maj. Baker for being a part of the process. We’re thankful to be seeing this come a part of reality,” Rev. Cleven Jones said.
While waiting for body cameras, both officers and community members have pushed for their use as they could create objective evidence that could be viewed by all parties involved.
Or as 1st Ward Councilor Todd Gordon said: “Cameras don’t lie. We’re going to know what happened in every situation. … So it’s good for everybody.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.