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Mitchell police continues tech upgrades in 2016

It's been a year of technological improvements for the Mitchell Police Division, which saw upgrades to its body camera system and patrol vehicles in 2016.

The Mitchell Police Division's new body camera docking stations have streamlined the process of uploading video files, clearing memory and charging the devices. (Jake Shama/Republic) --Ryan Buck pictured
The Mitchell Police Division purchased two new body camera docking stations this year like the ones in this Daily Republic file photo from December 2015, as well as four laptops for its patrol vehicles. (Jake Shama / Republic)

It's been a year of technological improvements for the Mitchell Police Division, which saw upgrades to its body camera system and patrol vehicles in 2016.

Two body camera docking stations and four laptops for the patrol vehicles were included in this year's budget and purchased, said Mitchell Assistant Police Chief Mike Koster. The docks were an expansion to a system put in place in 2015, which Koster said is working well.

"We have no complaints about the system," said Mitchell Assistant Police Chief Mike Koster. "We've had great success with it."

Last year, the Police Division purchased two body camera docks with funds donated to the department from the Palace City Lions Club in October 2015.

The docking stations charge the body cameras and upload the videos to the cloud. The memory on the camera is then automatically cleared, making the process much simpler for officers, who previously had to manually upload and delete content.

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The donation was provided shortly after an incident in which a Mitchell officer shot and killed a man, but the body camera failed to record the incident. The shooting was ultimately deemed justified.

Although there hasn't been an officer-involved shooting in Mitchell this year, Koster said videos from the cameras have been reviewed in response to intermittent citizen complaints and requests from attorneys, all of which he declined to discuss but said were without merit.

This year, the department expanded the system with two more docks, giving them enough docking space for every camera.

"We have all of them we need to dock all of our cameras," Koster said. "We have enough (cameras) for all of the officers in the department."

The department also took over payments for the cloud-based storage system this year, provided by Evidence.com, which was paid for by Palace City Lions through the end of 2015.

The two docks cost $2,990, Mitchell IT Specialist Andrew Schneider said, and the cloud storage fee was $6,591 for the year.

Patrol vehicles, meanwhile, were updated with four new Panasonic Toughbook CF-53 laptops. Koster said the systems installed on the old laptops ran on Windows XP, which Microsoft stopped supporting.

"When Windows outdated itself, new software mandated that we had to go to a new system ... so we were kind of forced into that to some degree," Koster said. "Everything that was outdated that needed updating got updated."

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Schneider said each of the laptops cost $1,557. Because the laptops were "end-of-life equipment," Schneider said the upgrades in 2016 were not unusual for the department.

"We had to replace end-of-life equipment ... that's pretty typical," Schneider said. "It just depends on the year, the laptops, how long the laptop's been in use."

The Police Division has no plans for technology upgrades in 2017, Koster said, but the department could be looking to upgrade camera systems in its patrol cars down the road.

Related Topics: POLICETECHNOLOGY
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