Evanston aldermen tonight are scheduled to approve spending an average of $229,000 a year over the next five years to equip Evanston police with body cameras and other equipment from Axon Enterprise, Inc.

In addition to the body cameras, the contract price will include new in-car cameras, an interview room camera system and new tasers for the officers.

In a memo to aldermen, Police Chief Richard Eddington says that for the first half of the contract the equipment will be funded through the city’s capital improvement fund. The latter portion of the contract is expected to be paid through departmental funds.

The $229,000 a year cost figure is net after an expected federal grant rembursment of a little over $100,000.

In the memo, Eddington says the Axon system has “a robust capability to meet the needs of implementing a complement of 120 body-worn cameras” as well as options for further expansion and unlimited storage capacity.

He says that in a trial of the system this summer officers found it easy to use. He says the use of body-worn cameras is becoming a best practice for police agencies to reduce citizen complaints, accurately document interactions and increase accountability to the public.

In addition to the equipment cost, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz has said he anticipates the city will need to hire one to possibly two additional employees to handle requests for copies of videos and to make legally required redactions from them before they’re released.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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