City buying body cameras for JPD

By RON HARRIS, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 12/6/17

Jasper police officers will soon be equipped with body cameras after Jasper City Council members approved purchasing the equipment Tuesday morning.

Council members unanimously voted to amend the city’s budget for fiscal 2018 to allow for the purchase of the cameras, as well as new air packs for the city’s fire department.

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City buying body cameras for JPD

Posted

Jasper police officers will soon be equipped with body cameras after Jasper City Council members approved purchasing the equipment Tuesday morning.

Council members unanimously voted to amend the city’s budget for fiscal 2018 to allow for the purchase of the cameras, as well as new air packs for the city’s fire department.

The body cameras will be a welcome addition to the department, Jasper Police Chief J.C. Poe said.

Poe said 60 of the lightweight body cameras will be purchased for the department, with patrol officers, detectives and even the city’s animal control officer assigned the equipment.

“By getting 60, that will give us a few extra in case one goes down,” Poe said.

Poe said adding body cameras “will be a big step forward for the department.”

“It’s something we’ve tried to look at getting, but we just haven’t been able to get them in the past,” he said, adding that the department has failed to qualify for grants in the past that would allow for the purchase of the equipment. “Unfortunately. sometimes having a good, sound financial base hurts you.”

Poe said the addition of the body cameras will further increase his desire to keep his officers safe while on the job.

“It’s going to be a big benefit safety-wise for our officers,” he said. “Maybe people will behave themselves a little more — some won’t, I know — and I think our officers will tend to put a better foot forward in their work with the public.”

The body cameras will be a huge deterrent to the general public falsely accusing officers of mistreatment when it simply doesn’t happen, Poe said. “They are definitely protection against false accusations,” he said.

They also will help keep officers in line, he added. “In dealing with the public, we stress that our employees and our officers treat people the way they would want their family members treated,” he said. “Some times we fall short of that, and we try to recognize those problem areas and deal with them.”

JPD patrol vehicles were equipped with cameras several years ago, but many of those no longer work. “Those are getting so old, they’re tearing up,” Poe said, “and it’s just not cost effective to repair them.” 

Poe said he was appreciative of the work Mayor David O’Mary and the city council had put in to make sure purchasing the body cameras would become a reality.

“It truly shows that you are concerned about our police officers,” Poe said near the end of Tuesday’s council meeting. “It means a lot to me, and it’s going to mean a lot to our officers.”

In other business, council members:

•approved minutes of the Nov. 21 meeting.

•appointed Phillip Lee to the Jasper Waterworks and Sewer Board. The appointment fills the term of longtime board member Charles Banks, who recently passed away.

•approved parade permits for the 7th annual pre-Christmas show prior to the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County’s annual Christmas parade on Thursday, and a Christmas Youth Celebration on Sunday, Dec. 17, from 4 until 8 p.m. sponsored by Jasper’s First United Methodist Church.

•approved having an appraisal for property recently declared unneeded, in order to sell the property.

•approved $3,000 to buy a .82-acre piece of property that’s needed to widen an area for a drainage project and for title work on the property.

•heard a report from city purchasing agent Derleda Abrom on negotiations to buy dual wall polyethylene pipe, and awarded the bid to Tri-Star Supply.

•approved a request to renew contracts for basketball officials for the city’s parks and recreation department, trash cans for the streets department and food for inmates at the city’s jail.

•approved a request from Abrom to send out bid invitations for copy machines.

•adopted a resolution to vacate a 20-foot alley on 20th Street West which was adjacent to the former Hickoryland Barbecue.

•adopted a resolution to vacate a 20-foot alley between 612 Third Place and 603 Fourth Avenue.

•adopted an ordinance to amend the city’s building code in order to eliminate the requirements for automatic fire sprinkler systems in residential properties.