Hattiesburg City Council approves dash, body cameras for HPD

Hattiesburg City Council approves dash, body cameras for HPD
Body camera/Photo credit: Watchguard

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg City Council approved the purchase of body cameras and new dash cameras for the police department on Tuesday.

Council voted 4-0 to approve the $249,410 purchase, which comes in $68,410.00 over what the department had budgeted for the fiscal year.

"This is one of the easiest decisions that we could make, because in today's times, with black lives matter and police lives matter and all to have the newest technology and the best technology for our police officers to have on them, it takes any guess work out of it," Hattiesburg Ward 3 City Councilman Carter Carroll said.

The Hattiesburg Police Department's sole source request is through Watch Guard, for 79 Vista HD Wi-Fi Extended Capacity Wearable Cameras, and 26 4RE In-Car Camera Systems.

"This system is needed to replace our existing In-Car Video Systems which is approaching end of life, and add on to the existing fleet inventory," Hattiesburg Police Chief Anthony Parker wrote in a letter to city council.

The department has been working to get body cameras for roughly five years. In 2011, the city purchased 143 cameras from Vidmic Incorporated.

According to department officials, those cameras never worked, and never hit the streets.

The city sent the cameras back to Vidmic, who later folded, and the city was out $100,000 of taxpayer money.

"It's much better equipment and we know what we are getting, you know sometimes things happen where a purchase is made and it just doesn't come out right, but that doesn't mean you stop giving the police officers the technology they have to have," Carroll said.

The new cameras and system will allow the users to save the recordings to an already existing evidence library at the police department.

Hattiesburg Police Lt. Detective Branden McLemore said this was the best choice for the department, and will help with investigations and cases as a whole in the future.

"We are 100 percent behind the police getting their new building and they have to have this new technology on them, we are a city that is large enough that it's just mandatory that we send our police officers out there with the best equipment," Carroll said. "This is something that if there is a complaint on an officer, or on a complaint on a civilian, you can go to the video and there will be no question, it will be safer for the officer and the city as a whole."

The body cameras and dash cameras will roll out in a few months, and then the officer training will start before they hit the streets, according to Hattiesburg Police Lt. Jon Traxler.