Cortez City Council will consider a five-year contract with Axon Enterprise next week to purchase equipment for the Police Department including 30 new body cameras, 30 new Tasers and an upgrade to its interview room recording system.
The contract would require additional funding for the Cortez Police Department’s 2021 budget.
According to the proposal prepared by Police Chief Vernon Knuckles, the cameras and Tasers would cost $69,206 for 2021 and $66,456 for each of the next four years of the contract.
The Axon interview room will cost $28,326.
Total cost would be $363,356, spread over five years.
Cortez police officers have been equipped with Tasers since 2007 and body cameras since 2010.
Officers currently are equipped with cameras from Reveal Media and are fielding Axon’s Taser X26.
Sole sourcing with Axion on new cameras, Tasers and interview room equipment would enable the department to consolidate its digital media evidence in to one cloud-based storage location. Currently, the department’s digital evidence is stored in three locations, requiring three processes to retrieve. Holding digital evidence in three separate locations opens the department up to “legal questions regarding the storage and transfer of evidence.”
According to the proposal, Cortez police’s newest Tasers are five years past their device end-of-life, and 11 of its 18 body cameras are due to be replaced. The interview system is no longer supported by the manufacturer.
Gov. Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 20-217 last year, requiring all law enforcement agencies in Colorado to provide body cameras to each certified peace officer by July, 1 2023.
The department has a patchwork system for ensuring that on-duty officers wear cameras.
Eighteen cameras are shared among 30 officers, and five are inoperable. Officers coming off duty must dock their cameras to download captured video and charge the battery. Officers starting their shift have to pick a camera that has finished uploading its video and will be charged enough to last for 12 hours.
It is not uncommon for cameras to be insufficiently charged or missing because the previous shift failed to leave a camera at the department.
Officers starting their shifts sometimes have to go through the tedious process of bring a camera back to be docked and repeating the sign-out process for a new one.
The proposal notes that this process could be a problem in the event that an officer is involved in a critical incident and is unable to return to exchange a camera.
The proposed contract would provide the department with 30 Axon Body 3 camera and 30 Taser 7s. A warranty would be included, and Axion would provide total replacements after 2½ years and after five years to update to the newest technologies.
The Axon equipment would automatically activate body cameras whenever a Taser is armed, a handgun is pulled from its holster, a patrol vehicle reaches a certain speed, emergency lights are activated, or an officer retrieves a patrol rifle or shotgun.
The Axon interview room would allow the department to manage all digital evidence on one centralized cloud-based server. There would also be enhanced redaction features and masking technology for the interview recording system. This would help to release videos containing sensitive information, another requirement of the state law.
If City Council approves the contract on first reading at Tuesday’s meeting, a public hearing will then be held March 23.