AURORA | The Aurora Police Department is slated to receive brand new body-worn cameras with more robust features within the next few months.
Aurora City Council members unanimously approved the $1 million purchase for the cameras from Axon, which was considered a top vender when the city went out searching for new cameras last year.
The department will get about 800 cameras in the new procurement, enough to supply every sworn-officer with a device and comply with bellwether state legislation passed last summer.
The sweeping legislation known as Senate Bill 217 requires that all officers in the state — from homicide detectives to cops who sit at a desk and digitally sign off on accident reports — be outfitted with cameras by July 2023.
The new devices have automatic sensors that begin recording whenever an officer turns on the lights of their cruiser, or reaches for their weapon, the latter of which was a crucial feature for Chief Vanessa Wilson.
“What I’m excited about is with these if you turn your overheads on, and then if you draw your weapon it goes on, which is really good,” she said.
City documents indicate that the cameras will also activate when an officer reachers for the newest version of Taser, which is expected to roll-out later this year.
The cameras also employ so-called geo-fences that turn them on whenever they’re in proximity to certain areas or people. Agent Matt Longshore, spokesman for Aurora police, said if one officer approaches a scene with their camera off, the device can sense if other cameras are on, and will activate itself.
He added that the devices will also be more securely attached to officers’ uniforms. Both the public and police officials have bemoaned the shoddy construction of the holsters used to affix the department’s current devices.
All three of the officers who detained Elijah McClain had their cameras become dislodged during the immensely criticized altercation along Billings Street in 2019. As a result, the video of the footage of the incident was largely obscured, which became a recurring complaint among activists and protesters in the ensuing months.
The city made an emergency purchase of several hundred beefed-up clips to better secure the cameras in the months after McClain’s death.
Though the new clips are still susceptible to coming off during hand-to-hand struggles, Longshore said the new holstering mechanism is superior to the plastic alligator clips that had been used in the past.
“The cameras falling off now is a lot less likely than it was three years ago,” he said of the new devices.
The contract with Axon will last five years, and will include replacement of all hardware in 2024, including “upgrading to new generations if available at no additional cost,” according to city documents.