The purchase of dashboard cameras in Reno police vehicles was approved Wednesday by the City Council, which indicated such devices are helpful and have been successful in collecting evidence in criminal proceedings.
The purchasing agreement with Axon Enterprises is not to exceed $1.2 million. Funds will come from E911 surcharge fees paid for through a reimbursement request to the city’s 911 Emergency Response Advisory Committee.
Reno police will start integrating in-car video recording devices into marked police vehicles by the end of this year. The 5-year contract with Axon also includes related peripheral equipment, network and data storage. The fiscal year costs for the contract term will be equal throughout the contract at $227,136 per year.
Lily Baran spoke to the City Council on behalf of the ACLU of Nevada. She said camera footage needs to be released in a timely manner, which in some other cities ranges from 3 to 5 days. Some Nevadans involved in incidents have waited as long as 2 or 3 years for footage.
“We’d like to ensure the parties involved in police encounters have free access to the entirety of the footage obtained during an incident within a reasonable amount of time,” Baran said.
In addition to collecting crime scene evidence, city officials say dashboard cameras are helpful pertaining to performance and discipline, while also providing public transparency. Police Chief Jason Soto said dashboard cameras would automatically turn on when an officer is dispatched to a scene.
“It’s just an additional furtherance of having footage of and for our officers in their daily duties,” Soto told council members.
Axon also provides body worn cameras for police and has been doing so since 2018 for Reno and Sparks police departments and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. During the 2017 Nevada Legislative session, lawmakers approved Senate Bill 176 that would require uniformed officers in routine contact with the public to wear cameras.
Soto said body cameras have been a positive addition.
“Body worn cameras have been an extreme success in terms of building that transparency and trust in our community and with the public,” Soto said. “We have changed some of our policies and procedures to address some of the issues in terms of timelines and how quick we can get that footage out.”
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.