PIEDMONT — Piedmont’s police officers will soon be equipped with body cameras, according to information presented at the Piedmont City Council Tuesday night.
The council voted to approve the purchase of a body camera system from Axon, a supplier of law enforcement and self-defense equipment.
“We’re the only agency in Calhoun County without body cameras,” Piedmont police Chief Freddie Norton told the council. “It’s just time to have body cameras on everybody we’ve got.”
According to Norton, the Police Department had bought 10 cameras in 2016 to begin equipping some officers, but only one currently still works. At $5,500 altogether, the cameras were regarded as part of a pilot program for use of that technology.
The new agreement with Axon, which will supply 42 cameras over the duration of the five-year deal, allows all officers to wear a camera while on duty.
“There will be a strict policy,” Norton said. “In every police interaction, they’ll be required to have it on.”
Norton said implementation of a body camera program will allow police to help build trust and transparency in the community, as well as minimizing potential litigation by providing video evidence.
“This could be the difference in the way a lawsuit goes,” said Michelle Franklin, Piedmont’s city clerk who had been working with Norton to find potential camera suppliers.
The contract with Axon, which Norton said already supplies tasers for the department, will cost the city $58,488 over five yearly payments.
During the meeting, the council also received results from an audit done by Anniston-based accounting service Kemp and Associates.
“Your financial statements are presented fairly in all material respects, which is the best opinion you can get,” Brandy Faulkner, a senior accountant told the council.
“We’re careful with our spending, and every year it just gets better and better,” Mayor Bill Baker said of the audit. “I just appreciate our city employees.”
In other business, the council:
Approved a motion to give city employees the day off on Friday.
Approved an ordinance to annex property owned by Miller-Allen Family LLC into the city limits.
Discussed the possibility of implementing “smart meter” systems that would allow remote reading of utility meters inside the city.
Approved bills in the amount of $556,955.36.