By Devese “Dee” Ursery
COLLINSVILLE — The Collinsville Police Department went live with their body cameras and are preparing for upgrades to its telecommunications center, two major projects in the approved 2024 Capital Improvement Plan.
The Capital Improvement Plan is a plan for the city’s capital investments. The CIP allows the city to forecast capital costs, funding, and timing for large projects. Each year, the CIP is reviewed by the City Council within the context of ongoing city, county, and state planning, programs, and policies, as well as the city’s planning documents.
According to Jon Boerm, Assistant Chief CPD, the department went “live” with activation of the new Axon Body Worn Cameras at the beginning of this year. The body cams cost $53,000 and included hardware, software and services.
“We have 45 officers and each one was assigned a body camera. Anytime they are taking any kind of enforcement action or law enforcement action within the field they are required to have those cameras activated,” Boerm said. “This has been a long anticipated project that we as a staff have been preparing for since 2022. We are currently working through some of the bugs and issues that come with a project this large but overall, things are progressing very well.”
The goal of CPD’s body cam project is to show their commitment to accountability and transparency; an additional layer of safety for officers; potential evidentiary value for criminal cases; potential to increase civility of police-citizen encounters. The Illinois legislature passed the Safe-T Act in 2022 and it was amended in 2023, requiring all law enforcement agencies in the state of Illinois to implement a body camera program by 2025.
“We’ve always been on the cutting-edge of equipment here at Collinsville PD. We’ve never been adverse to going to body cams in any way. It was just getting through some of the legislative red-tape that came along with it,” Boerm said. “We hope it enhances trust with the public and I believe it protects us as well. It provides us a level of protection because sometimes we are accused of wrong-doings, whether it be unlawful use of force or whatever. So,it provides us a little bit of cover because those allegations are not always true.”
According to Boerm the second major project of the year for CPD will be the renovation of their telecommunication center. The existing design of the dispatch center allows for two-and-a-half dispatch stations while the design will provide four fully functioning dispatch workstations-.
The upgrades would improve the functionality of the space; expand the dispatching operational capabilities of the space, according to the 2024 CIP. The new center would also implement quality of life improvements for Public Safety Answering Point operators.
This would be the second remodel of the center since our building opened in 2000. This project was made possible through a grant from the State of Illinois with a total cost of $380,000. The anticipated construction for the remodeled telecommunication center is to begin in early March.
“This expanded footprint will also make way for a supervisor’s office within the communications center, something that is sorely needed,” Boerm said. “We believe having upgraded technology and new furniture for our telecommunicators will significantly impact their efficiency and productivity, which will allow us to provide superior services to the citizens of Collinsville.”