LIHUE — The Kauai County Council unanimously approved a Kauai Police Department request to purchase a package deal that includes more than 100 body cameras and 100 Tasers worth just under $180,000, using money from the KPD asset forfeiture fund.
“I always say it’s nice to use bad people’s money to buy things for the county,” said Mel Rapozo, council chair.
The Officers’ Safety Package Deal priced at $176,718 contains 105 Axon Flex body cameras and mounts, unlimited video storage, and 105 X26P Tasers, battery packs and holsters.
Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said the purchase shows “good research, negotiations and planning.”
“That is getting the county the best bang for the buck on a very important tool and equipment to both protect the public and the police officers,” she said.
KPD started using Tasers in 2008. Rapozo said the Tasers currently in use have cameras when operated.
“We just have to make sure our officers are best protected as best as they can,” he said.
KPD Assistant Chief Robert Gausepohl said patrol officers will be equipped with cameras within a year, pending the development of equipment policy.
“We’re very close to having a good policy in place,” he said.
Kauai has 159 officers sworn to appoint, he said.
Councilman Gary Hooser said the use of non-lethal force is progressive for the community.
“I want to commend the Kauai Police Department for going down this path; it really shows some forward thinking by a small community like ours to move with the body cams and the electronic Tasers,” he said. “The more we utilize non-lethal force is better.”
Councilman Mason Chock said he’s supportive, but would like more feedback.
“What I’d like to see in the future is some feedback if it’s working to our benefit,” he said. “I am looking forward to how this assists our community.”
Gausepohl said a previous KPD purchase included 67 Tasers at a cost of $127,000. He said KPD will return the 67 cameras, and monies will be credited to the county- approved purchase. Without the package deal discount, he said, the cost of all the equipment amounts to $355,000.
“They’re allowing to send back the Tasers we have and give us credit for the $127,000,” he said. “So the net cost is $51,000, roughly, $52,000, which is not budgeted, and we need permission to expend out of our asset forfeiture funds.”
The KPD asset forfeiture fund has an operating balance of $484,326 for fiscal year 2015-16.
Gausepohl added that the ongoing cost of electronic storage for the video recordings will be $124,000 a year.