An officer body-worn-camera. FILE PHOTO, Kent Reporter

An officer body-worn-camera. FILE PHOTO, Kent Reporter

City of Kent reaches agreement with Axon to buy body-worn cameras for police

$1.6 million contract over five years

It’s going to cost the city of Kent $1.63 million over a five-year contract to outfit 105 officers with body-worn cameras.

Kent Police and Arizona-based Axon Enterprise, Inc., reached an agreement this month. Kent will use money from its new red-light camera program that starts in July to pay for the cameras. Police officials estimate the 11 red-light cameras at six intersections will bring in between $1 million and $2 million per year with the $136 tickets.

Kent will pay Axon $408,931 the first year of the program followed by payments of $306,187 in each of the next four years for the $1.63 million total.

In addition, the city will pay about $386,000 in extra staff costs per year to hire a video technician to manage the cameras; a prosecuting attorney to review video for court cases; and an administrator in the city clerk’s office to handle public disclosure requests and redaction of video.

That brings the annual cost of the body-camera program to about $794,000 the first year and $692,000 in each of the following four years.

Kent ran a six-month pilot program with body cameras on 11 officers that ended in May. Axon provided those cameras for free with hopes to get the Kent contract.

“It helps with citizen complaints because we can review the video before we talk to the complainant,” said Assistant Police Chief Eric Hemmen during a June 11 presentation to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee. “We can review all use of force (incidents). Officers review the video before writing their reports.”

Mayor Dana Ralph proposed outfitting officers with body cameras during her 2017 mayoral campaign. She said in April at a police community meeting that the cameras will help keep officers and residents safer “because everybody behaves better when they are on camera.”

The council backs the program.

“This is where we need to go to keep Kent up in the next bracket of law enforcement,” Council President Bill Boyce said at the committee meeting. “I strongly support us doing this.”

Councilmember Toni Troutner favors what videos can capture.

“It shows more detail and shows emotion and what happens on the scene that you might not see in writing down a report,” said Troutner, chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee.

As part of the five-year contract, Axon also included 105 Taser 7 models as part of the contract, the latest Taser produced by Axon with better performances by the weapon and the darts it fires. Kent will replace its current model with the Taser 7.

In addition, Axon will provide Taser holsters, docks for both the cameras and Taser, training and live cartridges for the Taser and storage space at evidence.com for camera footage, pictures and statements. Evidence.com is a cloud-based digital evidence management system that allows police departments to manage, review and share digital evidence.

Axon, which has a Seattle office, contracts with nearly 50 police forces in major cities to provide body cameras, according to its website. Seattle, Spokane and Tukwila police departments use body-worn cameras. Axon has a contract with the Los Angeles Police Department and is finalizing terms with the Phoenix Police Department after numerous shootings by officers in that town.

Hemmen said as part of the program if an officer pulls out his or her gun, a signal automatically turns on the camera. All officers in patrol and the special investigations unit will wear the cameras when Kent starts the program later this year. The police department has not set a date for when the 105 officers will start wearing the cameras.

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