Body cams

Among the provisions of House Bill 3653 is that police officers statewide must be equipped with body cameras by 2025. The law does not include statutory funding for departments to purchase the required equipment.

KANKAKEE — The Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department is one step closer to purchasing body cams for its 30 deputies as the county board’s finance committee gave its unanimous recommendation at Wednesday’s meeting.

The only complete bid was for $317,646 submitted by Midwest Public Safety of Decatur for the Getac brand of body cams. That amount includes $19,200 for the first year of cloud storage for the body cam video.

“We put this out to bid. We published it in the local newspapers as we’re required,” Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey said. “And unfortunately, for whatever reason, we got two bids back, which is somewhat surprising. One of the reasons that we wanted to do this now is because common sense would tell you from business standpoint that once it becomes mandatory, we feel like the price is going to go up.

“So we did this now so that hopefully instead of paying more than the $317,000 that we have here, we’re avoiding, potentially $500,000.”

The bid was previously OK’d by the board’s criminal justice committee and with the stamp of approval by the finance committee the body cam purchase goes to the full board at its next meeting on May 11.

The Getac brand is the same as the dashboard cameras the department already has, which is good for compatibility of the two systems, Downey said. He said it’s good to be able to finally purchase the body cams.

“It just comes down to cost,” he said after the meeting. “And so we’ve never really been opposed to them. But the financial situation with the county, it’s tough, but we’re still hovering. In this day and age, I think it’s important to have body cameras.”

Downey added that having body cams can protect his officers when an arrest might come into question for whatever reason.

“I’m still convinced that I think this is a need, and a lot of law enforcement personnel are convinced as well that body camera footage is going to protect the officers 99.9% of the time more than it’s going to protect the offenders,” he said.

The actual cost might be reduced by a state grant the county will be applying for at the time of the purchase. Once the full board gives its approval in May, the body cams and all the equipment that comes with them will be ordered, and Downey expects it to be available in July or August. The department is ordering 40 body cams to have a few backups and when investigators might need them. The cameras come with a limited three-year warranty, and Downey said he hopes the cameras will outlast that period.

“I think it’s going to benefit everybody,” he said.

One additional annual cost is going to be for the cloud storage. It will cost approximately $20,000 annually to store all the data.

“So as much as some people want to say that we’re not defunding, we have to come up with that $20,000 somewhere to maintain the system,” Downey said. “So you can call it what you want, but the bottom line is every year we are going to had to come up with $20,000 for storage.”

Associate Editor

Chris Breach is the Associate Editor of The Daily Journal and the editor of the business section. A graduate of Indiana University, Breach has more than 25 years experience in newspapers. He can be reached at cbreach@daily-journal.com.