Milford police consider cheaper study, body cameras

MILFORD — Originally budgeted at $95,000, plans to study the Milford Police Department are set to move forward at just $7,500.

After hearing a recommendation by the police committee, the city council unanimously approved a motion which will allow Redstone Architects to update its 2011 police analysis at a fraction of the cost previously budgeted. “I was blown away by how Mr. Redstone impressed me. He really has his finger on what has changed between 2011 and today. I think it’s great any time we can save money,” Jamie Burk, councilmember and chair of the police committee, said.

At first, the study was added into the budget at the $95,000 price by City Manager Eric Norenberg in hopes of studying the staffing needs, according to Mr. Burk. But, he added, that wasn’t all that needed to be studied.

The study will now focus on both the facility and staffing needs of the police department.

“Once we got through the budgeting process, we got a lot of comments from the community as well as officers who were in the middle of negotiating their contacts,” he said of the decision to change the focus of the study.

“Eventually, we’re going to have to go for a referendum for a new building. I don’t know when that will be now with everything happening with the school taxes. We know the community’s pushing back, so we’re being cautious,” he added. “But this, this was a no-brainer.”

Police Chief Kenny Brown also brought up another topic of concern during both the police committee meeting and the city council meeting.

“Body cameras…” he began. “In today’s environment with the police and community relationship, they’re more important than ever.”

He said the importance of body cameras for his officers was something he told the council about during his job interview. The tricky part was finding the right solution at the right price.

The cost for a body camera system, including 25 body cameras, 10 car cameras, training and a innovative storage system using cloud technology, would cost the city $145,603 over five years, according to Chief Brown.

“Right now, when evidence is requested, someone has to research it, burn it (a copy) and ship it off. They’ll be able to use the new storage technology versus using manhours and money to ship it via FedEx,” Mr. Burke explained. “And the cameras will also be replaced at the end of the contract. With new technology, it’s going to be necessary.”

Grant money should be available for the initial costs of around $45,000, he told council members.

“What I need from you is the commitment for the years after,” he said.

The department would need to pay just over $25,000 every year for four years to continue covering the costs of storage and equipment which is all fully warranted during that time. At the end of the contract, the cameras would be replaced.

“The problem with many grants is that it only covers the initial costs. I think I can offset a lot of that cost, but I can’t guarantee it,” he said.

Council members nodded with approval as Chief Brown discussed the topic.

Council member Brooks added, “I think it’s money wisely spent.”

A motion to offer the financial commitment, subject to council’s approval of the program contract, was unanimously approved.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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