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Rock Hill considers $1.3M for police body, dash cameras

The Rock Hill City Council will consider a contract Monday with Taser International to provide body-worn cameras, dash cameras and related file storage equipment for police use.
The Rock Hill City Council will consider a contract Monday with Taser International to provide body-worn cameras, dash cameras and related file storage equipment for police use.

The Rock Hill City Council will consider a contract Monday to pay $1.3 million over five years to provide body-worn cameras, dash cameras and related file storage equipment for police use.

If the City Council approves the contract, Rock Hill would pay for body cameras for each of its 151 sworn officers, as well as six extras, according to city spokesperson Katie Quinn. The lease-purchase agreement would also include more than 100 in-car dash cameras, as well as storage and file software, so officers could catalog and retrieve footage.

During Monday’s meeting, the council will review the contract, then vote on whether to approve it.

The Rock Hill Police Department had been researching companies as early as January, according to Quinn, and received written quotes from four different vendors between May and July. The full cost over five years would total $1,334,200.

After two and a half years, the city could trade in its cameras for potential new models. After the five years, the contract would be up and the city could then decide whether to continue that current deal to provide for upgrades and software services.

“It’s been an item of interest for quite some time,” said councilwoman Sandra Oborokumo. “It’s something that’s been in the works for a while.”

The city has already approved in this year’s budget a new position for the police department to handle all of the incoming footage from dash and body cameras, according to Quinn. The proposed software administrator would deal with the system’s software, file retrieval and cataloging of the footage so it could be organized and retrieved at a later date.

Taser International’s cameras offered pre-event recording, which records the previous minute before an officer presses the record button, says Quinn. Also, she said a camera can be programmed to begin recording when a patrol car’s blue lights are turned on or a weapon is retrieved from a car’s weapons rack.

“One of the officers was telling me that it was important to go with the company that had proven technology,” said Quinn. “And Taser is one of those companies.”

The move drew praise from Brad Rawlinson, a local Rock Hill attorney and leader of the activist group Concerned Black Men of the City of Rock Hill.

Rawlinson and several black leaders last month delivered a list of 10 demands they believe will create more transparency in police actions. One of those demands was the cessation of patrols using vehicles without visible police markings, radar equipment and/or video equipment.

Gov. Nikki Haley signed into law last summer a bill that requires all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras.

“I’m happy with the fact that they’re moving forward with something that’s long overdue,” said Rawlinson. “I’m especially happy with the fact that the contract appears to include in-car cameras, which is probably the one demand I believe had no legitimate argument on the other side. ... Assuming the contract gets signed, we can cross that off the list and move forward and continue to make the city better.”

David Thackham: 803-329-4066, @dthackham

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