After current tech showed reliability issues, Mission moves to replace police body cameras

The Mission city council approved the purchase of 26 new police body cameras from WatchGuard, to replace the five or six-year-old ones that were no longer sufficient.

The Mission city council on Wednesday approved the expenditure of just over $175,000 to replace the police department’s aging in-car video and body camera equipment.

A loss of man hours and equipment failure led the department to look for a replacement system, according to city documents. As previously reported, the body cameras Mission police officers have been using aren’t “high quality” and weren’t functional in some situations. Police Chief Ben Hadley had said the current body cameras, which are now about six or seven years old, would fall off in the middle of a sprint or physical confrontation.

Councilmember Sollie Flora noted on Wednesday that the department has been researching replacement options because the current system lacks storage options and reliability.

The Mission Police Department will soon be equipped with WatchGuard VISTA body cameras.

Three manufacturers — WatchGuard, Panasonic and Axon — were selected to provide demonstrations of their equipment, and submit models for officers to test and evaluate, Flora said. Below are the parameters the manufacturers had to meet, according to city documents:

  • Hybrid storage, meaning on-site and cloud storage
  • Integration between the in-car systems and body cameras
  • Multiple officers can record at the scene

Other parameters include “the ability to use ambient light to record in low light,” stability control and “enhanced viewing technology,” according to city documents. Staff recommended the city council approve the purchase of the WatchGuard video system, which was priced in the middle of the other two manufacturers at $176,741. The video system includes the following items, in addition to software to support review of the videos that are captured:

  • 10 in-car video systems
  • 2 motorcycle cameras
  • 26 body cameras

An on-site server must be purchased separately for the video system, with funds allocated in the department’s 2020 budget. The unanimous approval to update the Mission’s body cameras comes just two months after Overland Park deployed 200 body cameras to officers for the first time in its history. Overland Park uses a WatchGuard product as well.

In addition to body camera replacements, the city approved allocating funds to replace six front line police vehicles. The total cost amounts to $406,577, which includes the price of outfitting the cars and a mobile data terminal for each car. The city council also adopted a lease-purchase resolution for the vehicles, which will allow city staff to work with the financial advisor to solicit bids. Conditions for the lease-purchase agreement will be taken to a future city council meeting for consideration.