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Galesburg Police Upgrading to High Def Cameras

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The Galesburg Police Department will soon be going even higher tech to help fight crime.

On Tuesday night, Galesburg Police got the green light from city council to upgrade the cameras in their squad cars, making the move to high-definition video.

Police say the new cameras will make a big difference.

"It is a way of documenting exactly what happens," said Lt. Russ Idle. "They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

But, Galesburg police say there's just one word that describes their current in-car camera system: Outdated.

"Mechanically, you can't get spare parts for it anymore. It is not as high-quality, the picture is not as good," Idle explained, adding that the media transfer system is also problematic, because having to remove the media storage devices from the cameras to move the video onto the computer system added unnecessary wear and tear to the equipment.

And, although they were state of the art when they were installed back in 2008, these cameras just don't meet the police department's needs anymore.

From use in crash investigations to traffic stops and any other incident occurring on a public roadway, police say they need better quality video than what their current analog cameras can deliver.

"It can make the difference in a criminal case," Idle said.

"Oftentimes the evidence is somewhat small or minute and so a good clear picture, especially in less than ideal conditions whether it be at night or in bad weather, is very important," he added.

That's why the force is upgrading to better cameras. The Panasonic Arbitrator 360 HD camera systems that will be installed in the squad cars offer far better picture quality, they hook right into the on-board computer, and they automatically, wirelessly send video back to the police station for review and storage.

"There is no comparison between the new HD system and the old analog as far as the quality of the technology," Idle said.

When you do compare the video from each side-by-side, it's easy to see why Galesburg police say not making the switch is not an option.

"Without it we are not going to get convictions in court, and the public has come to expect this level of documentation and transparency," Idle explained.

Galesburg City Council members clearly saw the benefits of upgrading the system, too. They voted unanimously in favor of approving the purchase.

"I'm familiar with what cameras can do," said 6th Ward Alderman Wayne Allen, explaining his position, "They can help collect evidence and do a lot of things and they are just like an extra arm for the police officer."

The twelve new camera systems and the handful of accessories needed to outfit all of the police department's squad cars will cost about $65,600.

That is actually about $12,000 less than it would have cost under the original state bid offering, thanks to savings through rebates from the manufacturer.

The whole purchase will be covered by money from the city's Computer Replacement Program and Special Enforcement funds.

Now that city council has approved the purchase, the police department can go ahead and place its order. The new cameras should be up and running in the squad cars within a few months.