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Body camera purchase approved for Traverse City police

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Traverse City will buy body cameras for its police officers.

The final price tag, make and model is still being researched, but the City Commission approved a plan to spend up to $100,000 dollars on the cameras at a virtual meeting Monday night.

“I feel that this is a great opportunity for our police department to lead the way,” City Police Chief Jeff O’Brien said at the meeting.

City Manager Marty Colburn said the final price the city pays will be lower than $100,000, which is a placeholder in the budget.

“I think it’s going to be well below the $100,000 at this point,” Colburn said.

Traverse City Police currently don’t use body cameras, although they tried purchasing some in years past.

“Since I’ve been chief ... I’ve wanted body cameras,” Chief O’Brien said in an interview with IPR last month. “They’re a great tool. They’re mainly a collection of evidence, they assist police officers in their job.”

The change comes after The Northern Michigan Anti-Racism Task Force demanded policy changes in the wake of George Floyd’s homicide.

Task Force member Courtney Wiggins says body cameras will make citizens and officers feel safer.

“This will give us all a sense of security and put the police department in the modern age,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins says the task force is working on implementing the rest of their demands. They want Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Officers to wear body cameras as well.

Wiggins says they have more meetings with Sheriff Tom Bensley to go over that, although Bensley has previously said he doesn’t think body cameras are necessary.

Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a general assignment reporter. Before joining IPR, Max worked as a news director and reporter at Michigan State University's student radio station WDBM. In 2018, he reported on a Title IX dispute with MSU in his story "Prompt, Thorough and Impartial." His work has also been heard on Michigan Radio and WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing.