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Police Department to Replace Faulty Camera Systems


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December 13, 2018 -- The Santa Monica Police Department is expected to replace the body and car camera systems it purchased last year after encountering numerous problems with the equipment and technology.

The faulty systems would be replaced with 325 body-worn camera systems and 75 in-car camera systems, as well as cloud-based storage, under a $2.044 million contract the City Council is expected to approve next week.

The Council on Tuesday also is expected to accept a refund of $200,000, or 85 percent of the original purchase price, from the previous vendor.

"The system currently in place has been unreliable," staff wrote in its report to the Council. "There have been ongoing incidents of lost data, inoperative cameras, faulty equipment accessories, and inoperative systems all together."

Staff said the company agreed to provide replacement parts but the shipment was delayed for as long as two years.

"All of the technological issues over the quality of the current systems have not been resolved," staff said.

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The camera systems were initially purchased as part of a six-month pilot program launched in September 2016 that outfitted some officers and civilian personnel with body worn cameras on the job ("Santa Monica Police to Start Wearing Body Cameras," August 25, 2016).

After the trial run, former Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks recommended that police shift to permanent use of body-worn cameras and purchase the equipment and data storage ("Santa Monica Police Chief Recommends Permanent Use of Body-Worn Cameras," June 22, 2017).

While the department had used in-car cameras since 2006, the body-worn cameras "enhanced the ability to record events outside the reach of the in-car camera systems," staff said.

The video has been used to provide evidence for traffic violations and for enforcement, criminal investigations and in-progress action, according to staff.

It also "has played a critical role in the internal administrative investigations of alleged misconduct and/or policy violations," staff said.

The technology keeps "neighborhoods safe both in the technology’s support to investigations as well as in the trust the technology builds between the Police Department and the community," staff wrote in its report.

The proposed contract with Arizona-based Axon Enterprises, Inc., is for a total amount not to exceed $392,964 for the first year and a total amount not to exceed $2,044,265 for a period up to five years.

The contract would be an exception to the competitive bidding process that applies when competitive bid procedures have already been utilized, staff said.

The Axon system is used by regional agencies that include the Los Angeles Police Department, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and the Anaheim Police Department, staff said.


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