The Madisonville City Council unanimously approved body camera upgrades for the Madisonville Police Department at a cost of $400,000 from Utility Body Worn for 46 cameras, according to a bid from the company.

At their meeting on Monday, the council discussed two bids for the cameras — the approved bid from and another from Axon for $167,615.22.

The agreement for the body cameras is for a five-year contract and is split up into one payment of $160,000 the first year and then $60,000 for the remaining four years.

MPD Chief Steve Bryan said the department is prepared to pay for the first year’s payment with money from the current budget.

“We would plan to pay for the first year out of this current budget,” said Bryan. “I have to give Maj. Andy Rush credit. He does a fantastic job of tracking our spending. As of right now, less than two months away from the end of the fiscal year, we are spending less than what we had budgeted for. We believe we will have enough money to pay for the first year out of this year’s budget.”

Year two’s payment has already been budgeted for the next fiscal year budget, said Bryan, adding that the payments will be added each year following.

“We are already paying $25,000 a year for our current body camera system that is up in July,” he said.

Bryan added that Utility met the requirements that the department was looking for.

One main feature is that it allows the officer to focus on their own safety and the safety of the public with automatic features making the camera instantly turn on as an officer gets closer to a call location. The camera also is connected to a sensor that is placed in the holster of the officer’s firearm. When the firearm is removed, the camera automatically turns on and starts recording, according to Bryan.

The camera also has a feature of foot pursuit activation that causes the camera to automatically turn on during a foot pursuit.

“Officer safety is a big deal to me,” said Bryan. “The officer safety feature where if the body camera goes prone it will send out an alert to all other officers on duty if there is an officer down, and it will also send out a GPS location. To me, that is a big selling point.”

Bryan said the $233,000 difference in bids equates to less than a $1,000 per officer, per year.

“If you spread (the difference) out over five years, it is about $46,000 a year,” he said. “We have nearly 50 officers, so it is less than $1,000 extra per officer per year. From my standpoint, something that could potentially save the life of one of our officers, that is the biggest selling point to me.”

Bryan said Axon’s bid had a technical feature that the company was still working on and was not going to be available until the first quarter of 2022.

Also at the meeting, the council:

• heard from resident Bill Powell, who requested permission to drive a low speed vehicle on city streets with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less. Powell said the vehicle is completely enclosed with seat-belts, lights and blinkers. The council was presented with four different ordinance examples from other cities regarding low speed vehicles to review in reference to the request and will bring their suggestions back to Madisonville City Attorney Joe Evans to draft an ordinance.

• approved to close Sugg Street on Tuesday, June 15 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for the Hopkins County Regional Chamber of Commerce’s event “Toast to Retail and Restaurants.” The closure will be between Main Street and the railroad tracks.

• approved to close a portion of Logan Street on Friday, May 14 for First Baptist Church to have a movie night.

• heard Mayor Kevin Cotton read a proclamation recognizing May 6 as the National Day of Prayer.

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