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Common Council approves funding for police car dashboard cameras

The City of Shelbyville Police Department will soon have dashboard cameras in operation in all of its patrol vehicles.

On Wednesday at the city’s Common Council meeting at City Hall, police chief Mark Weidner requested $115,330 in racino funds to purchase 19 additional dash cameras.

“For probably three years now we have had at least half of the patrol division operational with these video cameras and they have been a tremendous success, both from evidentiary purposes and litigation purposes,” said Weidner to the council. “We have a case going on right now that is probably going to be litigated on the basis of what we see in the video.

“Given the climate of things going on right now, I’ve had other officers ask for these cameras that do not have them. I don’t have a way to give them to them within the budget.”

The need for more dashboard cameras was brought to the council’s attention at an April meeting. Councilman Tyson Conrady, the council’s liaison to police, fire and emergency medical services in the city, discussed the lack of cameras for nearly half of the city’s police department.

At that time, Conrady said the city would pursue grants to fund the additional cameras.

“We looked at grants for this project but we were unable to secure the funding that way,” said Conrady Wednesday afternoon.

In the end, Conrady, a first-time city councilman,  was grateful that the process produced the desired result.

“I’m happy to see that the police department is getting the cameras in all patrol cars,” he said. “Officer safety is my main concern and like chief Weidner said, these will provide additional resources in our city’s enforcement efforts.”

Cost of the equipment is $102,030 and installation is $13,300. Maintenance of the additional cameras will be added into future budgets, according to Weidner.

The new cameras are from the same company that provided the initial cameras for the police department so all the software will be compatible.

The motion was approved 6-0. Councilman Nathan Willis was not present for Wednesday’s meeting.

The council also heard from fire chief Tony Logan about a potential new way to staff an ambulance.

Through a contract with St. Francis Hospital, an ambulance is staffed by the hospital with a paramedic, an emergency medical technician and, at times, a student in training.

There have been several times where the ambulance is not staffed which puts additional stress on Shelbyville’s fire department resources.

Logan is putting together a proposal to hire three civilian paramedics to help staff that ambulance on a full-time basis.

Logan stated after the council meeting that he believes the funding is there to make it happen but there are still technicalities that need to be ironed out such as overall supervision of the paramedics and scheduling.

The firefighter’s union voted early Wednesday morning to support the project once guidelines are put in place.

All Shelbyville firefighters are also paramedics or EMT-certified which gives them versatility on emergency runs. That will not be the case with civilian paramedics who are not firefighters, and would alter assisting with volunteer department emergency calls around the county.

The Shelbyville fire department had 5,665 runs last year stretching out resources in ways not seen before.

“We’ve had a tremendous increase in run volume,” said Logan to the Common Council Wednesday morning prior to the meeting. “Last year was an unbelievable year – a perfect storm some may call it. Not only did our run volume go up but we had the issue with St. Francis where the truck was staffed sparingly so to speak. On top of that, I had two guys on workman’s (compensation), a guy on military leave and several people out from COVID-19.”

Logan asked that the discussion be removed from the regular meeting agenda Wednesday with the goal of returning in February for more discussion.

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