St. Charles committee recommends approval for new body cams, tasers, training facility

Safe-T Act requires officers wear cameras by 2025

St. Charles Government Operations Committee members recommended approval of the police department’s purchases of body-worn cameras, in-car cameras and tasers, as well as a construction contract for a new training facility, for a total cost of $2,848,269.20, at their Dec. 4 meeting.

The department is looking to purchase 62 body-worn cameras for $1,023,168.80, 20 in-car video systems for $514,584 and 12 tasers for $71,486.40- for a total of $1,609,239.20 – all from multinational police equipment manufacturer Axon Enterprise Inc.

Police Chief James Keegan and Deputy Chiefs Erik Mahan and Eric Majewski presented three equipment purchase requests to committee members.

St. Charles police officers do not currently wear body-worn cameras, but under the Safe-T Act, they will be required by state law to implement them by Jan. 1, 2025. Under the law, body-worn cameras must be equipped and turned on at all times when officers are interacting with citizens.

Under the new law, body-worn cameras must be equipped with pre-event recording and be capable of recording for a minimum of 10 hours. Recordings must be kept for a minimum of 90 days, and destroyed unless they contain a flagged encounter such as an arrest, officer complaint or event that will be used in a future criminal proceeding.

Mahan said each of the department’s 60 sworn officers will be assigned a body-worn camera, and the department will purchase two spare systems in case of malfunction. All 20 in-car video systems will be installed in each of the department’s front-line police vehicles.

Under the purchase agreements for both the body-worn and in-car camera systems, the city would enter into 10-year contracts with Axom. Mahan said the department’s previous taser contract with Axom has expired and their current models are obsolete, so they are requesting to renew a five-year contract that would supply the department’s officers with new models.

Keegan said the cost of the body-worn cameras would be offset by a $120,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, $117,000 in funds previously budgeted, and city funding.

For the in-car camera systems, Keegan said the department plans to use a portion of their $300,000 in escrow funds and intends to apply for a $115,000 reimbursement grant through the Illinois Law Enforcement Standards and Training Board in 2024.

Keegan added that funding for all three purchases would be integrated into the department’s future yearly operating budgets.

The recommendations to approve all three equipment purchases were made in separate, unanimous voice votes, and the purchase agreements are expected to go before City Council for final approval at their Dec. 18 meeting.

At the same meeting, police department representatives requested approval of a construction contract to build a new training facility that would be constructed on the existing police owned shooting range lot just west of the Tri-Comm Central Dispatch Center at 3823 Karl Madsen Dr., just south of Route 38 on the west side of St. Charles.

Under the contract, the city would pay $1,239,000 to KWCC Construction Inc., of Montgomery, for the construction of the St. Charles Police Department Regional Tactical Training Center, which would service over 30 law enforcement agencies in the surrounding area.

The 3,800-square-foot facility would feature classrooms for virtual reality and simulator training, four bathrooms and a garage area for storage and gun cleaning. Keegan said there will be no ammunition or weapons stored in the new facility.

Keegan said the facility would be funded by a state grant and private donations. The department has received a $1.1 million grant from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and $165,000 in donations from the Kara Foundation and Wayne Jimerson, for a total of $1,265,000 raised for the project.

Committee members also recommended approval of the construction contract in a unanimous voice vote, and is expected to go before council for possible final approval at their Dec. 18 meeting.

Keegan said if the contract is approved, the department would like to start construction as soon as possible, and the proposed construction timeline calls for the facility to be substantially complete and operational by June 2024.