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Henderson police could soon be wearing body cameras

Updated May 14, 2018 - 10:26 pm

The Henderson Police Department could soon become the next law enforcement agency in Southern Nevada to require its officers to wear body cameras while on duty.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Henderson City Council is expected to award a five-year contract to Georgia-based communications equipment vendor Utility Associates Inc. The new integrated system would replace the Police Department’s existing dashcam program.

“We’ve had a system in place for many years with car-mounted cameras and audio, but now we’re moving to add the body camera component,” city spokesman David Cherry said Monday. “We had gone down the path to see if a body camera system could be integrated with our existing car-mounted cameras, but it wasn’t possible. We had to start from scratch, if you will.”

The Police Department has less than two months to implement the entire system before Senate Bill 176 goes into effect on July 1. The bill, signed into law a year ago, requires police agencies statewide to equip officers who regularly interact with the public with portable recording devices. The bill expands on a law passed in 2015 that imposed the requirement on the Nevada Highway Patrol.

“There are several variables to consider should this item not receive approval,” Cherry said. “If the process were delayed or the (request for proposal) process had to be redone, it is unlikely that we would be able to meet the July 1 deadline.”

City staffers are recommending approval of the contract with Utility Associates.

The Police Department is seeking to deploy about 300 body cameras and 250 dashcams. The $1.4 million funding for the first year of the five-year agreement, according to the City Council agenda, would come from three city accounts: public safety, crime prevention and sales and use tax.

In January, the city received six bids after a November request for proposals from qualified firms to provide the integrated camera program for the department.

An evaluation team then reviewed and scored the proposals, interviewed the three highest-ranking firms and field-tested the equipment of the final two vendors, Utility Associates and Axon Enterprises Inc. The Metropolitan Police Department has a contract with Axon.

The deployment of the department-wide camera system in Henderson would be divided into two phases, according to the proposal. The first phase includes the implementation of the body cameras, including all infrastructure and software necessary to support their use. The first phase also includes testing and training. The second phase would consist of the removal and replacement of the current dashcam system.

Aaron Patty, spokesman for the North Las Vegas Police Department, said Monday that the department’s body camera system “is in the works.” May 1 was the deadline for vendors to submit bids to the city of North Las Vegas.

“We’ll see them at our police department in the coming months,” Patty said.

In 2014, Metro became one of the first large police agencies in the country to outfit its officers with body cameras, but pilot testing began in 2011, when the agency was under intense public scrutiny for its use-of-force policies.

As of late November, Metro had deployed 1,950 body-worn cameras to its patrol officers, canine units and SWAT and traffic officers, according to Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

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