MINOOKA – The Minooka Police Department is the first Grundy County law enforcement agency to wear body cameras.
As part a 60-90 day trial run, BatteryJack, 772 Twin Rail Drive in Minooka, is supplying Minooka’s 15 uniformed officers with its Titan Body Camera. Minooka police have worn the cameras for about two weeks.
BatteryJack spent the past two years researching and developing the Titan Body Camera. Customer Development and Retention Specialist Richard Cardoza said changes already have been made based on officer feedback. The original model had a light on at all times, but officers noted it wouldn’t be ideal for ambush situations, so the light can now be turned on or off.
Spurred by national news on the topic of excessive police force, BatteryJack contacted Minooka Chief Justin Meyer to explore testing out the cameras.
“We wanted to see if it would be a good tool for our department,” Meyer said. “Initial feedback is that it’s working well.”
Meyer worked on the department’s policy to allow footage to be used as evidence. The camera can record up to nine hours of continuous footage with 16 GB storage. It’s only turned on when needed, so typically two or three hours of footage are recorded in a “busy” shift, Cardoza said. The camera is plugged into a USB port at the department after a shift, where it collects the footage and recharges the battery.
The functionality of the camera is based on ease of use. Donny Sweeney of BatteryJack said law enforcement has a tough enough job already so the design intends to not impede on officers’ ability to do their jobs.
Minooka Patrolman Ken Briley said he’d like the camera to have a wide lens, infrared capabilities and attach to the uniform more securely. He acknowledged it’s the wave of the future.
The company has met one-on-one with local police chiefs over the last six months, but Meyer was the first to try it out. Cardoza said samples are being sent to Dwight police and talks are ongoing with Coal City police.
The camera is offered in several different forms of display, and more attachments are coming soon. Cardoza said BatteryJack is able to compete with the “big dogs” of the body camera industry, such as EVO and Taser, because it offers its product much cheaper. For example, when it launches its dashboard camera model soon, it will cost around $1,000. Other companies charge $3,500 to $5,000, he said.
Sweeney said Titan has sold about 250 body cameras online to everyone from construction workers to a woman in New York.