The City of Glenn Heights announced in June that police and fire units would begin receiving new technologies intended to improve public safety and the difficult job of handling emergencies. The first batch of new equipment has now been issued to all police and firefighters working for the city.
Police officers have been issued brand-new body cameras from Axon that replace the older designs the department previously used. The Axon 3 bodycams offer several unique features that will ensure better responsiveness while encouraging accountability of officers.
“This technology enhances the officers’ capability and provides enhanced protection to the public and the officer at the same time,” Keith Moore, public safety officer for Glenn Heights, said in an interview with The Dallas Express. “There is a lot of new technology with the new Axon 3.”
Moore explained that the new cameras will make officers more efficient by allowing them to log details of a video in the field immediately after an incident rather than having to wait until the officer returns to the station to dock the camera. This will allow officers to record information more accurately and in less time.
The new cameras offer several features that will enhance officer safety. One key feature is GPS tracking which will enable dispatchers and supervisors to direct officers when in pursuit of a suspect or in areas that do not have easy-to-identify landmarks. Cameras also will automatically sync and begin recording when near other officers to avoid accidentally leaving a camera off during a heated moment. The camera will also automatically turn on any time the officer draws a weapon so that everything is captured, even when a situation develops too quickly for an officer to focus on turning the camera on manually.
“I have the ability to view real-time what that officer is going through when their body camera is activated,” Moore said. “For example, if my officer has to go hands-on with someone and they are injured and can’t reach their mic, the dispatcher can see exactly what is going on, and so can the supervisor.”
The body cameras came with a high cost. Moore said the department purchased and issued 25 cameras for $281,000. The price includes a 5-year service plan and the ability to upgrade the cameras should Axon introduce newer technology.
All 17 Glenn Heights firefighters have also been issued new technology that enhances their safety and performance in an emergency. The department now outfits each firefighter with a unique face shield that includes a thermal imaging camera. This allows the firefighter to quickly identify where a fire is burning hottest, even in situations where smoke has reduced visibility to nothing. The cameras also make it possible for firefighters to locate victims trapped under debris or obscured by smoke.
Moore said that previously, thermal cameras were hand-held, requiring one firefighter to manage the camera while directing others into a situation. The new technology now frees firefighters from this limitation.
The new thermal imaging shields are a relative bargain at $25,000.
In the coming months, Glenn Heights will also be rolling out new vehicle cameras for police officers that will match the technology of the body cameras and further enhance public safety and transparency. Axon is also supplying an advanced dispatching system that promises to help incorporate all of the latest additions in public safety for the city.
“Staff, our City Manager, and the City Council really placed emphasis on increasing the services for public safety and for providing public safety to enhance what we are providing to our citizens,” Moore said. “As the Department Head, I really appreciate all the hard work and dedication that has been put into this and making a stand to say public safety matters to us.”