Police armed with body cams

John Scarffe, Black Hawk.  Smile! You’re on camera if you’re stopped by Black Hawk police officers or need their services. The Black Hawk Police Department is the first in the First Judicial District of Colorado to be armed with body cameras, the Black Hawk City Council learned during a regular meeting at 3 p.m., on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at 211 Church Street.

City Manager Jack Lewis said that two years ago the Council approved the purchase of body cameras, and they have been working for the past 18 months on them. “We are pretty much up and running,” Lewis said.


Commander Tory Jantz gave the Aldermen a demonstration of the cameras and showed one of the cam’s recorded videos. The battery life of the cameras is 12 hours, and they are always on and recording when on an officer’s body. They have a magnetic backing so they can be fastened to the uniform.


The officer presses a button and it records with the previous 30 seconds already recorded, Jantz said. As soon as your turn it on it activates with sound and a buzzer.


It’s rare to have a mistake.


Whatever precipitated that event gets recorded and whatever happens after. It’s a completely secured system. “The camera doesn’t want to have a better view than the officer,” Jantz explained. If dark in the video, it’s also dark to the human eye.


The cameras are off while the officer is in the car, Jantz said. They teach steering wheel to steering wheel — it’s on out of the car and when back to the car it’s off. “We’ll leave it on all the way to the jail,” Jantz said.


They can use a magnetic mount so it can record in the back of the car. Officers also can take the camera off and point it at an object found under a seat.


City Attorney Corey Hoffmann said that the risk we have today without cameras is the same risk as the officer not turning on the camera, but that risk is far less than not having them at all. Mayor David Spellman said it’s remarkable that Black Hawk’s is the first police department in the First Judicial District to have the cameras, considering that includes Jefferson County. “That says a lot.”


Jantz showed the Council one of the camera’s videos. An officer responded to a call from some visitors locked out of their car in one of the casino parking lots. The video recorded the conversation between the officer and the owner of the car and the procedure for unlocking the car.


Police Chief Stephen Cole said that Jantz did all the work on the camera project, including the research and written policy. Jefferson County could have cameras in September or October.


“We saw an opportunity there to capture what we do and document what we do,” Cole said. “All commissioned officers have the body cameras. We already have videos in all casinos.


“It is the wave of the future. Our staff embraced them and it’s really going to help in the future,” Cole said.


Fire Chief Don Taylor presented the Council with an Automatic Aid Intergovernmental Agreement between Black Hawk and the Timberline Fire Protection District for the Highway 119 Corridor. The agreement is the result of the “no man’s land” becoming part of the Timberline Fire Protection District following a recent election.


Some clarification was necessary in regards to the Highway 119 South Corridor fire response. “This IGA will automatically dispatch the City fire department to all incidents on Highway 119 and those immediately accessible from the highway. We will also provide fire inspection and plan review for those affected,” according to the request for Council action.


Spellman said the City would collect 50 percent of mill levies Timberline would transfer to Black Hawk. The Council approved the IGA.


City Attorney Corey Hoffmann introduced an ordinance regarding the requirement to connect to the municipal water system. He said this is the first of two ordinances regarding this topic.


Currently residents have the opportunity to use an alternative water source, such as a well. This would eliminate that option. Hoffman said. “All occupied buildings located within the municipal limits of the City and within 200 feet of a City water line will be required to connect to the City’s water system,” according to the request.


“All new connections to the City’s water system must also install a backflow prevention device, surge arrestor and a water meter. All connections to the City’s water system and the installation of backflow prevention devices, surge arrestors and water meters shall be in accordance with the Water Board’s rules and regulations.”


The Council approved the ordinance and approved a bid for work at 211 Horn Street.
On May 26, 2017, the Community Planning & Development office issued a Request for
Qualifications and Proposal on Rocky Mountain Bid System. On June 13, the City received bids from two general contractors, White Construction Group and Big Valley Construction, according to the request.


Both general contractors submitted bid packages, but White Construction’s was incomplete. “The Community Planning & Development staff and NV5 conducted a price per square foot comparison based on historical program pricing and feel confident that the pricing received is comparable to previous projects in the program,” according to the request.


“Since Big Valley Construction has a strong track record with previous projects in the Historic Preservation Program and because the Big Valley Construction bid was the lowest received, NV5 recommends that Big Valley Construction be awarded the 211 Horn Street contract.” The project cost totals $1,226,036.


The Council also approved the license agreement for the Mardi Gras’ Sounds of Summer Luau scheduled for August 5, 2017.


(Originally published in the July 20, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)