ELKTON — At Monday evening’s Elkton Town Council meeting, officials voted in favor of purchasing tasers and body cameras for the police department along with a security camera upgrade for the Elkton Area Community Center.
Council unanimously approved the request for tasers and body cameras to be purchased for the police department.
Councilmen Steve America, Randell Snow, Jay Dean, Louis Heidel and council member Margaretta Isom all voted in favor. Heidi Zander was not present.
There will be 10 Axon tasers and 10 body cameras purchased, according to Mayor Josh Gooden.
He said having 10 of each will ensure that every part-time and full-time officer has one — with some to spare for when the town is back to full staff.
Currently there are four full-time and three part-time officers. There are two full-time positions vacant.
In the fiscal year 2020 budget, council had set aside $48,000 for the in-car camera system and $8,500 for the tasers, but Alexander said after the quotes came in, it was clear it wouldn’t be enough money to cover the cost all at once.
It will cost $58,677. Of that, $16,327.40 will be paid in the fiscal year 2020 and $10,587.40 will be paid annually in fiscal years 2021-24.
Snow asked Town Manager Kimberly Alexander if doing yearly installation payments would be saving the town money.
Alexander said if the town does so over a five-year period, the company gives the town a cheaper price.
She said there were other systems that were less expensive “but the product wasn’t the same and it would require a lot more maintenance on the staff level.”
Axon is a cloud-based system, opposed to the town having to purchase its own server and maintain all data in-house, “which we really would like to get away from,” according to Alexander.
With the system approved, officers can send their recordings electronically to the Commonwealth attorney office.
Harrisonburg, Charlottesville and Augusta County use the same system, according to Elkton Police Chief David Harris.
Also on the agenda, council unanimously approved the request for new security equipment for EACC. The 31 cameras that the community center currently has date back to 2005-06, although some have been upgraded.
They are not high-definition cameras and it is hard to see what is going on through them, according to Howard Taylor, the EACC’s director. There are also many blind spots around the outside of the building as well as the inside that the cameras can’t reach.
Two new high-definition voice recorders will be bought along with 19 new high-definition cameras.
Taylor said there are 12 existing cameras that can still be used because they had been upgraded.
“They just weren’t hooked up HD wise, because we don’t have the recorder for that,” he said.
Isom asked Taylor if there was a confidential meeting in the council chambers, would there be any way for someone to flip a switch and turn on the voice recorders to hear the conversation.
Taylor said there is software already on the computers that allows someone to record a conversation, but it is password protected.
The cost is $11,700 and is a budgeted item for the current fiscal year’s budget.
In other news, there was a public hearing Monday evening prior to the regular council agenda regarding the town’s application for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program funding for sidewalk improvements from North Terrace Avenue to Shenandoah Avenue sidewalk extension along North Stuart Ave and Shenandoah Avenue, according to town documents.
The cost of the project would be around $484,011.
No one spoke during the hearing.
Council unanimously approved a resolution for support for the TAP funding.
If approved for funding, the council would agree to provide a minimum 20% match for the program, which is required by the program.