The Auburn Police Division is getting a technology upgrade, one that a former police chief said puts Auburn "right up there with the bigger cities."
APD is changing several parts of its technology system, including new body-worn cameras and vehicle cameras that send live footage to the police headquarters and a virtual reality training system.
The Auburn City Council unanimously approved a $1.5 million contract with Axon Enterprise spanning over five years to supply APD with the new technology at its Tuesday night meeting. Public Safety Director Paul Register said the current camera and technology system has worked, but provides only the “bare minimum” for the division.
“This option will allow us to have body-worn cameras, car cameras, tasers that have a sensor to make the cameras work, and all of this will be integrated,” Register said. “Additionally, we will have the ability to review video and live view of critical events, where command staff will be able to see what is going on at the moment it happens.”
Register said APD realized the expectations of the community toward transparency in policing, which is one reason the division is upgrading its system.
“The community, ... they expect us to be responsible and have certainty that we have these videos available,” he said. “This puts us in a much stronger position to give the public comfort.”
The 130 body-worn cameras and 60 vehicle cameras purchased with the contract will send live footage to police headquarters, which the current system does not support.
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Register said the system will also have GPS built in, allowing command staff to see exactly where an officer is located during an incident. Footage from body and car cameras will be stored in the new storage service as part of the contract for a period of months, with footage needed for evidentiary purposes, such as in a court case, stored longer.
VR training will also be new to Auburn’s police force as part of the contract.
“We literally will be able to put officers in virtual situations where they’re interacting with community members and the public, dealing with difficult situations, firearms training,” Register said.
Ward 8 Council member and former Auburn police chief Tommy Dawson spoke in support of the new system.
“This is cutting-edge technology, and I commend our police division for staying on top of that,” Dawson said. “This puts us right up there with the bigger cities, I believe. ... I think this is great for officer safety and for liability issues.”
Mayor Ron Anders said he toured the Mobile Police Department along with public safety staff and learned that Auburn follows practice in line with larger metropolitan areas.
City Manager Megan Crouch said she believes the City’s budget for police will be able to absorb the annual $305,624 cost of the contract.
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