KCPD asking city for $7.2 million for new dash cameras for police cruisers

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Seeing is believing.

Kansas City police say that's true of their current dashboard cameras, which are nearing the end of their usefulness. Replacing them with updated technology, according to Kansas City's police chief, will cost more than $7 million.

It`s a matter of safety and solid work.

Kansas City police officers have access to more than 300 vehicles with dash camera capabilities, and the systems are nearly obsolete.

KCPD Chief Richard Smith told police commissioners last week these cameras were purchased in 2007, and Coban, the manufacturer, isn't making parts for them anymore.

Those cameras, which are mounted near the highest point of the cars' windshields, begin recording as police go to work. A KCPD spokesperson said they begin recording no matter the police assignment.

Technology moves quickly, and the current crop of cameras is a dozen years old.

"We need to act fast. The clock is ticking," Capt. Tim Hernandez said Monday.

Hernandez, one of the department's public information officers, explained the cameras are a must when police enter dangerous situations.

The dash cameras connect to an onboard laptop computer, where they send recorded audio and video to a hard drive. Police retain that content for potential use in prosecution.

"We activate our cameras whenever we're on a call for service. Anytime, we're in an interaction, with a citizen of the community, we activate our cameras," Hernandez said.

However, the new gear won't come cheap. Last Tuesday, Smith told the Kansas City Police Board new cameras will cost $7.2 million, money that isn't in the police department budget.

Chris Hernandez, director of communications for the city government, told FOX4 News some of those expenses could be offset using money from local public safety sales taxes.

Smith said he's seeking a system that will be compatible with body cameras, which police asked for last year. A KCPD spokesperson said funding for those cameras has yet to be identified.

"We think we have a way to fund 340 brand new units," Smith said last Tuesday. "We have stolen pieces from one system to put in the next to keep it struggling along until we identify the new system."

Hernandez said the department is using some cars that don't have a dash camera. He points out these cams have two significant purposes: they keep police officers safe, but they keep them accountable, too.

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