Alabaster OKs police officer body cameras

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Alabaster’s police officers soon will be equipped with body cameras, after the City Council voted to approve the purchase during a June 25 meeting.

Council members voted unanimously during the meeting to accept a $72,593 bid from the National IPA Purchasing Co-op bid list to purchase 65 Panasonic body cameras to outfit all of the city’s working officers.

The decision came a few days after council members discussed the matter during a June 21 work session. During the work session, Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney said the cameras will be worn on the front of the officers’ bulletproof vests, and will be paid for primarily from the Alabaster Police Department’s civil forfeiture asset fund.

Alabaster’s officers already use audio devices on their uniforms to record all of their interactions with the public, but the body cameras would provide a greater amount of detail. Rigney said the public nationwide is pushing for officers to use body cameras at all times to record their interactions with the public, and said the Panasonic body cameras will work with the department’s existing in-car camera systems.

Rigney said the Pelham Police Department currently is using the same model of body cameras the APD is purchasing, and has seen success with them.

Officers will be able to turn the body cameras off to conserve battery power while in their patrol cars – since the in-car dash cameras would cover recording during those times – and the body camera’s battery is designed to last an officer’s entire 12-hour shift.

At the end of the officers’ shift, they will download the body camera footage to a hard drive to be archived. The footage will only be released upon a court order or if approved by Rigney, he said.