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Ashwaubenon looking to finalize pricing for body cameras

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

ASHWAUBENON – The village board is in favor of equipping Ashwaubenon public safety officers with body-worn cameras, but wants to firm up the cost.

The board approved a motion Tuesday, Feb. 23, to instruct staff to get final numbers for the Axon Officer Safety Plan (OSP) 7+ body camera package, which includes cameras along with tasers and the capability for managing, storing and sharing digital recordings.

Board members heard a presentation on different types of body-worn cameras from Public Safety Director Brian Uhl.

He said the public safety department, which has cameras equipped in vehicles, does not have money designated in the 2021 budget for body-worn cameras.

Brian Uhl

The board last November agreed to proceed with a body camera program for the public safety department, though details on how the program would be implemented and funded weren’t finalized.

After contacting manufacturers of body-worn cameras, Uhl said he wanted officers to review them to see what system would best suit the department’s needs.

Uhl said 78 percent of the village’s officers indicated they favored the type of cameras included with an OSP 7+ package, the Axon Body 3.

“If I had my way and money was no object, I would do the Officer Safety Plan 7+,” he said.

Uhl said the OSP 7+ package would offset a $70,000 cost over five years because the department will have to replace tasers during that time.

“We spend $18,000, or whatever it is, in training cartridges alone every year,” he said. “We don’t have to do that. It’s included in this plan.”

When factoring in discounts, Uhl said preliminary figures he obtained place the cost of the OSP 7+ package over five years at around $347,000.

Uhl said the Green Bay Police Department plans to begin using the OSP 7+ package starting in March, while the Green Bay Packers have offered to assist local law enforcement agencies with donations to help offset the cost of equipping officers with body-worn cameras.

“One of things that really attracted, I think, the Packers to this as well, was not only the issues in society right now, but was the fact that… we’d all have the same system,” he said. “That makes it really nice for the DA’s office to have one kind of evidence coming in, being able to review that stuff. We can share that information as we need to.”

Uhl said the village can’t afford not to have body-worn cameras.

“To me, this is an insurance policy, not only for the officers, but for the village as well,” he said. “We see how things blow up and can backfire with what has gone on so far. We need this, in my opinion, to protect ourselves and the village.”

Uhl said some businesses also have expressed an interest in donating money for body-worn cameras.

“There might be some money coming in from the businesses,” he said. “We’ll certainly take a look and see if there are any grant opportunities to help us fund down the road as well.”

Uhl said he wants to have a body-worn camera program be sustainable beyond five years.

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