New patrol car cameras incoming for Smackover PD

The Smackover City Council approved a request from Smackover police to purchase new car cameras on Monday. (News-Times file photo)

Smackover's City Council approved a request for new cameras for the Smackover Police Department's patrol cars during their monthly meeting on Monday, March 13.

SPD Chief Michael Fife made the request to the council.

"We're trying to update our system and move our video camera system, from body cameras to car cameras also," Fife said.

Fife went on to talk about the reasons for the request.

"With the car cameras you can see everything. We need to upgrade them not only to help us do our jobs, but... to help citizens know we're doing our job correctly," he said.

Fife received an invoice for the camera system from Axon Enterprise, Inc., for a five-year payment plan with an estimated total, including tax, of $69,531.85.

Fife said the contract includes free upgrades for the camera system if they are released by the company after the five-year contract is up.

"They also have tracking devices in them [and] they have it where I can look on my phone in that car and see what's going on," Fife said, adding that the cameras have the option to add license plate readers in at a future date if needed.

A motion was made to accept the request after Fife's presentation.

"I think the chief and his group have done an outstanding job and... it's very seldom that they will come and ask for anything," council member Chris Long said while making a motion to approve the request. Discussion followed before a vote was held on the motion.

"I don't necessarily have any objections, but with this large sum of money I think we need to look at the budget," Mayor Donald Brock replied.

Council member Mark Corley suggested taking bids for the camera system.

"There's no one to take a bid from; this is the company," Fife said.

Axon Enterprise is based in Arizona and, according to the company's website, makes "de-escalation and incident management tools to help security companies protect customers, employees and facilities more efficiently." The Union County Sheriff's Office also uses cameras made by Axon Enterprises.

Corley asked Fife if the patrol car cameras "work with the (SPD officers') body cameras."

"The (cameras) are from the same company. What happens - when they turn their lights on, that camera comes on and the body camera comes on. They can't reach up and turn that camera off until the lights are off," Fife said.

The cameras also come on when an officer pulls their service weapon or TASER, Fife said.

The council unanimously approved the request for the new SPD patrol car cameras.