KPD to begin wearing body cameras

A Kirksville Police Department sign.
The Kirksville Police Department could have started wearing body cameras as early as Thursday, Jan. 25.

Every officer in the Kirksville Police Department could have begun using body cameras as early as Thursday, Jan. 25.

On Dec. 4, 2017, Kirksville City Council approved the purchase of body cameras for Kirksville Police Department officers from Axon, previously known as Taser International. The cost of the new equipment is $13,323 per year for five years for a total cost of $66,615, according to the City Council report from Dec. 4. Police Chief Jim Hughes said the Kirksville Police Department is expected to begin using body cameras following this morning’s training session.

This comes after more than three years of effort to get approval from City Council to make the purchase of police body cameras. Hughes said he was one of the biggest advocates for the purchase. Body-worn cameras started as an idea in fall 2014, but required more research, said Hughes. After conducting more research, he brought the idea to the City Council, who rejected it based on a lack of need. Hughes said after presenting his position paper — in which he states the benefits of body-worn cameras as transparency, reducing citizen complaints, accountability, evidence collection, community confidence and limiting liability exposure — City Council agreed following additional consideration.

Hughes said the new equipment includes the latest generation of audio and video cameras from Axon, as well as coat and shirt mounts and charging docks that automatically download video to the cloud-based storage system. This system also has a routine purging system to make the video data easily manageable. This works by ranking the video data based on the severity of what is occurring in the video, which then determines how long the data is kept. What is determined as more severe content by the Department is kept longer, while simple non-confrontational stops would only be kept for 30 days, said Hughes.

Hughes said with the new equipment also comes a policy regarding how the equipment is to be used and what behavior is expected of the officers when wearing the cameras.

“I have been a fan of this concept for years and finally the technology has caught up with my idea of what I thought this could do when we were thinking about this thing years and years ago,” Hughes said. “This was primarily a police-driven initiative, and I am confident with the abilities and the capabilities of the officers at the Kirksville Police Department, so it was never a question for me if something like this was a good idea.”