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A concrete barrier outside the Law and Justice Center shows the logo of the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.

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The Gallatin County Commission approved a contract this month that will provide the sheriff’s office with body cameras.

The $415,000, five-year contract with Motorola Solutions includes 70 body cameras, cloud storage for footage from body cameras and dash cameras and hardware for deputies to upload that footage. The incoming body cameras will be the first time that deputies in Gallatin County have had body-worn devices to capture video footage.

Gallatin County Sheriff Dan Springer said that getting body cameras for his deputies is all about accountability. He said that the goal is to have every deputy on the street equipped with a body camera.

“It’s accountability not only for the public, but for the officers themselves,” Springer said.

Springer said that one issue the sheriff’s office faced in getting body cameras was a lack of storage for footage. Without upgraded storage — like the “unlimited” cloud storage offered in the contract — the footage from the cameras would likely have occupied most of the county’s storage capabilities.

Springer said that the order has already been placed for the equipment and it could arrive in the next three months.

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office has been working with the Gallatin County Attorney to create new policies for the incoming equipment — like what kind of footage is kept and for how long, Springer said. He declined to say what the new policies could be because they are still in draft form and subject to change.

There is a policy in place for vehicles mounted with dash cams. The only footage kept from dashboard cameras is from incidents where people are ticketed or arrested.

The county will pay $128,195 as a first payment on the contract. Then the price will reduce to annual payments of $83,160 for the next four years. Gallatin County Chief Financial Officer Mark Woodard said that the money would come from a $152,900 budget request in August.

Woodard said that he hasn’t heard whether the sheriff’s department won a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice grant that could have offset the first-year cost of the body cameras by up to 50%.

The contract also included nine integrated dash camera systems that can sync with the incoming body cameras. Those systems will go into vehicles that do not have a system that can remotely upload footage, Woodard said.

Bozeman spokesperson Melody Mileur said that the Bozeman Police Department could get body cameras some time this year. Contracts with Getac Solutions for police dash cameras are being prepared after successful testing of the system last summer.

A November report from the city said that it is looking to accelerate the implementation of body cameras. The next step would be a community engagement process to discuss Bozeman Police officers using the devices with the public.

Woodard said that the sheriff’s office would work with Motorola Solutions to get more body cameras if more deputies are added to the roster over the course of the five-year contract.

“Our goal is any deputy involved in some sort of incident is going to have their camera on,” Woodard said.

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Alex Miller is the county and state government reporter and can be reached at amiller@dailychronicle.com or by phone at 406-582-2648.

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