Chief gathering brings out body cam sales effort

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Chiefs of police from all over Michigan were in Grand Rapids this week for their annual winter meeting.

Many of them went shopping, as vendors from across the country set up shop, trying to sell the chiefs on the latest law enforcement gear.

If there is one item on just about every chief’s shopping list it’s body cameras.

But the hardware isn’t the only thing police chiefs across the country are trying to figure out.

“This is our body camera…it also doubles as a radio mic that the officers wear,” said Sean Slattery, who sells cameras made by Houston based Safety Vision.

While some view this as a bad time for police community relations, it’s good time to be in the body camera business.

“Our product is listed at $579. We typically sell them for around $450,” said Slattery.

Safety Vision is one of about a dozen makers of body cameras used by law enforcement in the U.S.

In the months following Ferguson, body cameras have become the go to, must have for police according to community activist and many in law enforcement.

Grand Rapids is one of several communities currently evaluating the use of body cameras. City Manager Greg Sundstrom hopes to have the entire department equipped with the cameras by the end of the year.

“The last three months have been very busy and it’s been pretty hard to keep up actually,” said Slattery. “We’ve probably gone through 2,000 units in the last six months. That’s quite a few.”

But choosing the cameras may be the easy part.

As a body camera salesman from Houston can tell you, the trials and tribulations that go along with the clamor over body cameras is the same where ever he sets up his table.

Police Departments are finding there’s more to the issue than taking videos.

“They actually have to write a policy before they can use this. Since it’s all new to them that is the part that’s a little tough for them in making a decision to go to them.”

Another issue is cost, with some departments are waiting to see if the Obama administration will pick up part of the tab.

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