The Heflin City Council Tuesday approved buying in-car cameras for the city’s police cars for $36,145.

The cameras activate as soon as a patrol car’s blue lights are turned on, said Heflin police Chief A. J. Benefield. They can also be manually activated to start recording at any time, he said. They include microphones inside the car and one on the officer, Benfield said. The cameras and microphones record inside the back seat of the police car and all around the car, he said.

The recordings are automatically downloaded to a server in the police department, Benefield said. The recordings can be used as evidence, he added.

“It’s an officer safety thing, public safety thing,” Benefield said.

The city received a State Homeland Security Grant from the Department of Homeland Security for $34,405 to purchase the cameras, said Mayor Rudy Rooks.

After receiving the grant, the city requested bids for an operating system and nine radios. It received bids from Coban Technologies, Watch Guard Video and Digital Ally. City Clerk Shane Smith opened the bids during the work session immediately before Tuesday’s meeting.

Coban Technologies bid $58,089; Watch Guard bid $58,900 and Digital Ally bid $40,140. During the break between the work session and the regular meeting, Smith said he found an alternate bid by Coban Technologies using less expensive cameras. That bid was lower than Digital Ally’s bid, Smith said but did not meet eight of the city’s bid specifications.

To stay closer to the grant amount and stay within the grant specifications, Councilman Travis Crowe suggested the council accept Kansas-based Digital Ally’s bid in the amount of $36,145, enough for eight cameras. The council members unanimously approved the suggestion.

The cameras would be installed by July 17, according to the bid specifications. The cameras come with a five-year warranty, Benefield said.

The city will have to pay $1,740 toward the cameras.  

In other business the council:

-Heard the city will have a public hearing at its July 8 meeting for a liquor license for a restaurant scheduled to open on Alabama 9 near its intersection with Interstate 20.

- Heard that the walking track at the Community Arts Center is paved and is being used.

“About 1:30 today there were two adults on it jogging,” Councilman Elvin Henson said. “… Four boys on bicycles riding it and three adults walking it at the same time.”

Rooks suggested the council members consider installing a light or moving a light to the track for people who might want to use the track at night.

- Approved participating in a state-approved one-time bonus for retirees on the state’s Employees’ Retirement System. The bonus will cost the city $1,414, Smith said.

- Approved a 50-cent increase in monthly residential garbage rates. The new rates will be $12 a month for residential, $13 for business pickup. The new ordinance also creates a one-time $10 delivery fee for extra garbage cans.

- Approved using Wright Express cards, available under a state contract, to buy fuel for municipal vehicles at local gas stations. The city previously bought fuel from the Cleburne County Commission at its fueling station. The commission shut down the fueling station after a possible leak was found.

Staff Writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545 or, in Heflin, 256-463-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.