CENTERVILLE -- Police officers and suspects will soon be recorded up close and personal, not with body cameras but with smart glasses.
Centerville Police Chief Sidney Andrews told the City Council on Tuesday of his plan to equip officers with CopTrax smart glasses in the near future.
The CopTrax website identifies its smart glasses as “Google Glass.”
Andrews told the council that since police and racial tensions erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, being able to record activities beyond police car dashboard cameras has become an issue.
He said he thinks recording police encounters is a good thing for both police and residents. He said putting in place the CopTrax glasses would be the best and most economical choice for the city.
Andrews said CopTrax, which already provides Centerville with vehicle dashboard cameras, has just made available its smart glass system which is compatible with Centerville’s current system.
He said current body cameras wouldn’t be.
Plus, Andrews said CopTrax has offered smart glasses to Centerville at half the normal price if the city would agree to be one of two cities in a nationwide study of the product and its use.
Andrews said the city will pay $750 each for 12 pairs of the glasses instead of the standard price of $1,500.
He said the entire package including glasses, batteries and related items would cost $9,200, which would come from equipment funds already budgeted.
Andrews said the cost for secure data storage from the cameras is estimated at $2,880 a year.
Non-arrest incidents, such as traffic citations, are typically stored for two years, he said. Arrest incidents typically are stored for seven.
Andrews said the smart glasses automatically start recording when an officer’s vehicle’s blue lights are turned on or whenever a voice command is given.
“I think this is a good opportunity for the safety of both our officers and our citizens,” he said.
No start date was given for the smart glasses recording.
In other business Tuesday, the council heard a presentation regarding ongoing implementation of its coming storm water program.
An unfunded but federally mandated requirement, the storm water program requires plans and infrastructure to deal with runoff storm water. The plan means residents, businesses and other community entities such as churches will see an added charge to their monthly utility bill depending on the estimated storm water runoff they produce.
Those in single-family dwellings will pay a flat fee, currently estimated to possibly be $4.25 a month, and others will be charged varying rates depending on runoff generated due to parking lots and similar factors.
The council voted to continue with putting the plan in place, which could see the added costs hitting utility bills in four to nine months.
In the meantime, council members are planning to set town hall meetings and other events to educate the community on coming storm water requirements. Officials said they hope to give fair warning to residents and especially to larger businesses that might see as much as a $50-a-month charge for the mandated program.
Also Tuesday, the council agreed to work toward going on a driving tour of two Georgia cities in late March to see and learn from successful economic and community development strategies.
The overnight tour will take the place of the council’s annual planning retreat.
Council members plan to pay a weekend visit to Suwanee and Senoia. Councilman Ed Tucker said those towns have used unique ideas to keep their hometown feel but still develop economically and add attractive town center parks and businesses.