It’s a 21st-century approach to fighting crime, Mayor Mark Holland said.
About $842,000 in federal public safety technology grants are expected to help equip Kansas City, Kansas, police officers with body cameras and build out a network of real-time, street cameras.
“These grants advance one of my top priorities as mayor: to give our police officers the tools they need to protect the public and themselves,” said Holland, noting that being selected was a great honor for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas. “This federal investment takes our community to a new level.”
A $342,000 grant is expected to equip 228 KCK officers with body cameras, continuing the Unified Government’s earlier effort, which began in 2016 with the allocation of $500,000 to build the fiber network needed to download and transmit body camera video.
“Body cameras are a great law enforcement tool that will aid us in capturing valuable evidence,” said Police Chief Terry Zeigler in a release. “And they will help us to continue building trust and transparency with the community.”
In addition, $499,402 in grant money is expected to help expand the video camera network with software that integrates video. The street camera network aims to help officers respond to incidents by giving them real-time feedback. The Unified Government also announced it will pilot a Community Connections program, giving businesses the option to connect security footage to the larger police camera network.
The project fits with the city’s larger smart city initiatives, said Alan Howze, chief knowledge officer for the Unified Government.
“We’re excited about what the future of what a more connected Unified Government can provide,” Howze said. “Technology is a force multiplier. That’s true for public safety and transactional interactions with local governments. We want to make it as easy as possible for residents to do business with the government and use technology to foster 24/7 access to information and expand the quality of life in Wyandotte County.”
Although the project primarily would benefit public safety, Howze said the initiative will secondarily benefit the city’s fiber network.
“This will expand fiber connectivity significantly, bringing literally dozens of dark fiber strands in places that haven’t had that kind of connectivity before,” Howze said. “It will create the capability for any integrated traffic network and smart traffic signaling and will allow for connected traffic cameras.”
Although the technological advancements are exciting, Howze said, he is most encouraged by the collaboration within government.
“The reward of the grant – as well as a broader technology push — is a reflection of a spirit of cooperation that exists across the Unified Government,” he said. “My office (the IT department) has been working closely with the police department and a number of different departments to collectively look at how to use technology to address the community’s challenges, creating stronger neighborhoods.”