An Axon body-worn police camera. COURTESY PHOTO, Axon

An Axon body-worn police camera. COURTESY PHOTO, Axon

Kent Police to purchase 40 more body-worn cameras over next 2 years

Entire 160-member force to be outfitted by mid-2022

Every Kent Police officer is expected to be outfitted with a body-worn camera by mid-2022.

The City Council approved this month spending $222,077 over the next two years to buy 40 more cameras from Arizona-based Axon Enterprise, Inc. Kent purchased 105 cameras in 2019 to begin its program, added 15 more the next year and will get 40 more over the next two years to reach 160 cameras for all officers.

Kent will pay for the body-worn cameras from its red-light camera fund that brings in about $2 million per year from ticketed drivers. That fund also will pay $1.7 million for 24 for new police vehicles over the next two years.

Mayor Dana Ralph proposed in her 2021-2022 budget to buy the 40 additional cameras and the council agreed.

“Body-worn cameras directly increase the transparency and accountability of our police department and have been a tremendously helpful tool,” Ralph said at the time.

The police department budget for the cameras, including all associated costs and fees was $53,380 for 2021 and $105,260 for 2022. But prices have gone up.

Kent will pay $67,211 in 2021 and $154,866 in 2022, according to city documents. The costs are higher next year because the fee includes a $110,452.32 yearly maintenance and license fees for the cameras purchased in 2021.

The police department outfitted 105 officers at a cost of about $320,000 per year in 2019, part of a $1.63 million five-year contract with Axon that will be bumped up to more than $2 million with the additional cameras.

The city also pays about $386,000 in extra staff costs per year for 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.

Each officer who is outfitted with a body-worn camera receives the following equipment: an Axon Body 2 camera, the new T7 Taser, Taser holsters, docks for both the cameras and Tasers, training cartridges for the Taser, Taser live cartridges and storage space in for their camera footage, pictures, and statements. The Tasers, also produced by Axon, are part of the package deal Kent agreed to in 2019.

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