The Hinesville Police Department will outfit 60 officers with new body cameras and have new in-car camera systems for 48 vehicles, after city council members approved a contract.
The contract with Lens-Lock, which is providing both the body cams and the in-car cams, will be for five years, with $109,611 for the first year and $145,587 for each of the next four years.
Chief Lloyd Slater said the HPD has been a pioneer in officers using body cams and in-car cameras. Slater recalled officers going to Radio Shack and buying their own cameras to fashion their own bodyworn cameras and others finding a way to affix the cameras in their cruisers.
Chief Slater said officers have taken cameras from each of the three bidding vendors for field tests.
“We get the feedback from the officers on how the cameras performed out in the field,” he said.
Vendors also once sold just body cams or in-car cameras but now are getting into subscription- based methods and selling both the body cams and the in-car cameras, Chief Slater said.
LensLock was the lowest of the three bids submitted. Software to support the cameras also was included in the package.
The HPD also is getting five new patrol vehicles and four new administration vehicles for its fleet.
City council members approved the lone bid from O.C. Welch Ford to provide the nine Ford Explorers. The police department initially requested 10 total Explorers, but revised their request after the prices came in over budget.
The budget for the 10 vehicles was $350,000 and the bid came in at $405,250 — with $38,205 for each administrative vehicle and $42,845 for each patrol vehicle.
“The price is constantly changing,” Chief Slater said.
Cutting one administrative vehicle brings the total to $367,405, and $17,405 over budget. Chief Slater said the difference can be made up in additional special purpose local option sales tax revenue and some savings in the police department.
That would be a total of $367,045, which would be $17,045 over budget.
The city also purchased an additional Ford Explorer from O.C. Welch Ford for the administration department, replacing an aging vehicle driven by Assistant City Administrator Ryan Arnold.
“It has been a difficult process,” Chief Slater said. “Most of the dealerships are not necessarily anxious about competing for bids — simply, if we don’t buy it today, somebody else will buy it tomorrow.”
Slater said they sent out initial bids in November and did not get any responses.
“We called them to make sure they received bids and they said they weren’t interested,” he said.
The city sent out bids back to three others and got only one response back, from O.C. Welch.
The new Explorer is $38,000, and the city had $32,000 budgeted. It also will take about 90 days for the vehicle to come in, Slater said.