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updated: 7/13/2011 10:02 PM

Elgin squad cars to get tech upgrade

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The Elgin Police Department will soon be able to order the last of its squad car camera equipment -- purchases that will total $460,000 in grant funding.

Elgin City Council members unanimously voted to give the police department preliminary approval to move forward with phase two of the equipment purchase Wednesday night.

Phase one was completed in 2010 with an initial $250,000 in federal money. That went toward the purchase of video cameras and related equipment to replace inoperable or poorly functioning systems.

This second grant will go toward replacing the final 40 squad car cameras and related infrastructure.

Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said this is the largest grant purchase in the department's recent history. He said the in-car recording capabilities help in a variety of policing situations, most notably to aid in-court testimony after DUI stops.

"With the footage we are able to observe what the officer saw that night," Swoboda said.

The cameras also help protect an officer in the case of accusations concerning his or her conduct during a traffic stop and aid in training situations, Swoboda said.

A large component of the purchase will include infrastructure equipment to capture and store all the video. The life of the system is guaranteed for five years, but Swoboda said the department expects to be able to use it for longer than that.

The grant money for phase two of this project comes from the Department of Justice's COPS office, which regularly provides funding for police departments throughout the country.

Council members will give final approval for the police department to make purchases at the July 27 council meeting.

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