Tampa Defers Purchase of Police Body Cameras

May 22, 2020

By: Tiffany Razzano

TAMPA – The city of Tampa will defer the purchase of body-worn cameras for the Tampa Police Department until later this year.

The city had already signed a five-year contract with Axon Enterprise, Inc. to purchase 650 tasers and 650 body cameras and related equipment. At their Thursday meeting, Tampa City Council members voted to move forward with the taser purchase, which will be implemented in June, but to delay the body camera purchase until October.

A Newark police officer wears a body camera last month. The cameras, which will be worn by officers as part of a federal monitoring agreement, are provided by Panasonic.

The deferred purchase is in response to the forecasted effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the city’s revenue sources, said Dennis Rogero, the city’s chief financial officer, at a special May 19 council meeting.

The deferral is part of the city’s plans to reduce this year’s budget by $12.5 million. The city will also restructure $5 million in debt, freeze 26 open positions, and eliminate two others, Rogero said. Holding off on the purchase of police body cameras will save the city nearly $1 million this year, he added.

In a May 14 memo to council, Chief Brian Dugan wrote, “Due to the current COVID-19 incident and its potential impact on the city’s revenues and budgets for (fiscal year 2020,) the city has negotiated this proposed contract amendment as a revised project implementation plan with Axon Enterprise, Inc.”

The amended contract reduces the budgeted amount for this fiscal year from approximately $1.5 million to around $485,000, he added.

“Before October 2020, the city will reevaluate its financial situation and determine if funding would be appropriated in (fiscal year 2021) and future years for the entire Office Safety Plan group of products or possibly continue with only 650 tasers in the annual amount of $435,500 for the next four years,” Dugan wrote.

The contract amendment allows the city to return or cancel any products to Axon without financial penalty.

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