The Henderson City Council has given the go-ahead for a couple of requests for grant funding to equip police officers with body cams and law enforcement cruisers with additional cameras.
At its July 12 meeting, council members approved grant proposals that Police Chief Marcus Barrow and staff have prepared. “Our officers have been asking for them for several years,” Barrow told WIZS News Thursday. He said if the application is approved, it will provide half the money needed to equip the officers with body-worn cameras. “We are seeking a grant that has a 50 percent match. The match funds would come from asset forfeiture funds or state treasury funds, which both are only used by law enforcement,” he added.
Barrow said his department does have some in-car cameras now, but so far, no body cams. “The cost to outfit an agency our size has been prohibitive in the past and we felt that this was an opportunity to seize assistance,” he said. The cost lies mainly with data storage, not in the camera itself, he explained, adding that many law enforcement agencies are faced with a similar challenge. All data should be kept for at least 90 days, he said, but tagged information may need to be kept forever.
If the department does get the grant funding for $48,958, the chief said it would set into motion additional regulations and policies for the department to follow. “I am sure there will be some growing pains associated with the use of body cameras,” Barrow said, “but we will educate and train the use to be muscle memory for the officers and use corrective action for any misuse.”
City Manager Terrell Blackmon said since the police department is an accredited department through the Commission for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA), “Chief Barrow has taken the time to develop standards for our officers based on best practices from around the country and from our accrediting agency.”
“I’ve always stood by my position that we would not introduce this product unless and until we could afford to properly apply it,” Barrow added.
The second grant for $21,599 is for purchase of three WatchGuard Video Camera systems and does not require matching local funds and would be shared with the Vance County Sheriff’s Office, according to information from the city council agenda. The city would get almost $13,000 and the county would get just over $8,600.