Winnebago County Board members vote against IT upgrade for body cameras

Published: Jan. 10, 2020 at 6:50 PM CST
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The new public safety resources for the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office hit a road block, as a $133,000 budget amendment for its body cameras is rejected by the Winnebago County Board.

Late last year, the board approved the purchase of body cameras, but on Thursday, they voted against paying for an IT upgrade needed to use them.

"This shouldn't be a partisan decision at all, and whether you like the Sheriff or not, it comes down to providing public safety," said Burt Gerl (D-15th District).

Board members approved the purchase of the public safety items last fall, inking a $2.4 million deal with Axon Enterprise Inc. to give officers 93 cameras and two-shot Tasers.

"We can use this equipment and use it effectively, 100 percent. If we don't do this, the equipment is going to be slow, it's not going to be conducive for our public safety needs, as far citizens are concerned and our officers are concerned," said Gerl.

Finance Committee Chairperson Jaime Salgado says this vote comes after searching for a solution in the face of the county's struggling budget.

"My recommendation was, 'Let's try to find some grant funding, you know, maybe the state, maybe the federal government, the seizures, whatever it is. Maybe we can find some grant funding where we can buy ourselves some time," said Salgado.

Both sides of the conversation are now working to remedy the problem.

"To say that we aren't giving them the tools, that's, from my perspective, not correct. We tried to split it off, you know, just the Tasers at this point in time. However, they were saying that they weren't able to give us a good quote because of the bundling package that was coming in through Axon," said Salgado.

"If they didn't want to do this, they should have voted no to begin with and not 'no' on these little trailers that need to be done to ensure that we have 100 percent production out of these body cams," said Gerl.