City Council could approve funding to outfit all BPD officers with body cams, support homeless shelter

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — All Bakersfield police officers could soon be equipped with body-worn cameras.

During its meeting on Wednesday night, the City Council will consider approving mid-year budget appropriations for the police and fire departments, the new city and county homeless shelters and more. 

“The mid-year budget update provides an opportunity for the City Council to take a broader look at the city’s financial picture at the mid-point of the fiscal year,” Assistant City Manager Chris Huot said in an administrative report. 

Out of the $5.4 million in Measure N funding that the city wants to allocate as part of the 2019-20 budget, $737,000 would go to purchasing 215 body cameras that police officers would be outfitted with later this spring.

In September 2019, the Bakersfield Police Department entered into an agreement with Axon Enterprise, Inc. to begin a phase in of body-worn cameras for all sworn officers and all uniformed police civilian personnel assigned to field duties. The first phase consisted of 210 cameras. 

If the additional allocation is approved by the City Council, all BPD officers would be equipped with a camera for the rest of the fiscal year, according to the city. 

The council will consider also approving a $63,000 allocation to allow the city to hire two new police property and equipment specialist positions, which would assist the department in implementing and managing the cameras and the data they provide. 

The city is also looking to allocate $320,000 to the Bakersfield Fire Department for the purchase of two new fire engines. 

The city wants these in place by the start of the 2020-21 fiscal year as the department works to expand with six new engineers and six firefighters that will serve as rescue squads. 

These are two-person EMS units that would also be utilized as a two-in, two-out rescue component during structure fires, the city said. 

The City Council will also consider a $822,000 allocation to the city to address homeless services. The bulk of the money — $500,000 — would go to Kern County to help with expenses for its new homeless shelter at 2900 M St. 

The rest of the money would go to support the city’s shelter, to be located at 1900 E. Brundage Lane. 

As for the rest of the allocations, $500,000 would go toward acquiring and implementing an e-permitting software program to help accelerate the permitting process. 

An additional $33,000 general fund allocation would allow the city to hire a private security firm for assist visitors to City Hall North, 1600 Truxtun Ave., with signing in and getting to the appropriate destination.

Earlier this month, the city implemented a new policy requiring visitors and city employees without a security code to check in with a BPD officer before they can access the elevator and upper floors. 

The city said it is looking to hire a private firm to free up BPD officers for other duties. 

“The private security staff member will perform the same duties as the BPD officer,” Huot said. “This arrangement allows BPD to reassign the officer to other department-related tasks.”

The remaining $3 million appropriation for the rest of the fiscal year would be placed in reserve for future need, according to the city. 

The City Council meeting will be held at 5:15 p.m. in the board room at 1501 Truxtun Ave.

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