Two Dodge County Sheriff’s cruisers and two Fremont Police Department cruisers will have new in-car camera systems, thanks to grant funds received through the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety.
Fred Zwonechek, administrator for the Office of Safety, announced Monday that each agency will receive $7,000 toward the purchase of camera systems.
Nebraska qualified for highway safety alcohol incentive funds, and the Office of Highway Safety has taken aim at drunken drivers, using the money to aid local law enforcement in obtaining camera systems and alcohol testing equipment.
“This funding and the ongoing persistence of law enforcement personnel continues to impact alcohol-related crashes and the resulting injuries and fatalities,” Zwonechek said.
“We’ve gotten grants in the past for in-car video cameras, and we’ve gotten grants for radar equipment and alcohol testing equipment and a lot of different items,” Sheriff Steve Hespen said.
Likewise, the Fremont Police Department has received Highway Safety grants in the past as well.
“Video cameras are used to document what the officers are doing,” Hespen explained. “They’re used for evidentiary purposes and they can also be used in any officer complaints that we get. These cameras run 24/7; if the car’s on, the cameras are running, so everything that cruiser does is documented on the cameras.”
The cameras play a role in monitoring traffic, officer safety, and other activities, Still added.
“It’s further evidence to have on any number of things that might come up,” he said.
All of Hespen’s cruisers already have in-car camera systems, but the grant will purchase the first two of a newer generation of camera systems, he said.
“These cameras are an improvement, better technology, more high definition video, increased night vision, and better pictures,” he said.
The new cameras will also eliminate the need for DVD storage as they transmit a wireless signal to the sheriff’s office where the images will be stored on a hard drive.
Still said the police department is expecting soon to receive three new cruisers. The new cameras will be installed in two of them, raising to eight the total number of cruisers in Fremont’s fleet with in-car camera systems.
The police department last summer began rotating new sportier looking Ford Taurus police cars into service with a flashy black paint scheme contrasting the white cruisers that make up the rest of the fleet.
The first two cruisers, which hit the streets in August, are equipped with mobile data terminals, shotgun and assault rifle racks, new radar units and video camera systems.
Police Chief Jeff Elliott said the department already had police cars with various pieces of technology in them, but the new wave of cruisers are the first that put all the pieces together.