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Hammond police begin using second generation of body cameras

Hammond police Cpl. Jason Quick talks about the new body cameras worn by all of the department's uniformed officers. This is the second generation of cameras the department has used since officers first began wearing them in 2015.

LAPORTE — The wheels are in motion to equip most police officers in LaPorte County with body cameras.

Police in Michigan City have used body cameras for a couple of years.

Now, the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office is working with the same provider to equip their officers.

Larry Butcher, director of the LaPorte County Emergency Management Agency, said he acquired 125 body cameras with a $79,000 state grant through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

The grant, though, did not cover the over $100,000 cost of software and video storage, he said.

LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd said he has enough discretionary funds in his budget to cover his share of that cost and hopes to have road officers and civil process servers wearing body cameras within six months.

In LaPorte, the city’s Police Department hasn’t committed to the idea yet but is looking closely at it, said Sgt. Bill Degnegaard.

He said the main concern is cost of storage.

Video requires a lot of storage space from the server, and with cameras constantly on there will be a lot of it to store for long periods of time in case the images are needed for evidence in a criminal or civil matter.

"We have to find a way to store all of this, and there’s a couple of different ways to do it, and we just got to see which way we need to go," Degnegaard said.

Boyd said body cameras about the size of a cellphone are worn on the chest to protect the safety officers and the public.

The video is also of great use in deciding the accuracy of criminal allegations and civil claims, especially frivolous ones, he said.

"We want to do it. We’ve been wanting to do it for some time, but it’s a very, very expensive venture, and we want to do it with as little expense to the taxpayer as possible," Boyd said.