Grant to buy video cameras for police

MARQUETTE – Marquette City Police Department officers will soon have up-to-date recording material, thanks to a national grant.

The grant funds will be used to purchase shoulder-mounted video cameras for all officers on the force, according to police department Capt. Blake Rieboldt.

“We saw a need and have heard good success with body mics or body cameras,” Rieboldt said. “This is a camera the officer has with him and it records both audio and video.”

Rieboldt said the department would equip all or most of its 35 sworn officers, including the parking enforcement officer, with the cameras.

Marquette was awarded $40,015 from the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program. The JAG program, administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, provides states, tribes and local governments with funding to support a range of programs.

Funds for this specific round of grants came through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Rieboldt said officers should be equipped by July with the Wolfcom 3rd Eye, a high-definition body camera that pins to an officer’s lapel and stores up to 17 hours of video, 500 hours of audio and 20,000 photos.

The cameras will allow officers to record every interaction they have. That should help with collecting and cataloguing evidence, and will serve to help the department sort through accusations and complaints against officers, Rieboldt said.

“This actually goes outside the vehicle with an officer,” he said. “People’s attitudes change drastically when they see a police officer with a video camera on them.”

Though the officer-worn cameras are fairly new products, Rieboldt said smartphones have become so prevalent that police are playing catch-up technologically.

“If you really think about it, we’re behind the times,” he said. “This is … really going to help us stay within reach of technology. Without these grants, its hard to go to a city commission and request $40,000 to assist with these.”

The allotted funds will also allow the department to purchase a computer data storage system, where the information from the cameras can be backed up.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.