ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned there is a controversy over which body camera manufacturer will supply the Atlanta Police Department.
A local company told Channel 2’s Amy Napier Viteri they have filed a protest with the city after the way their bid was handled.
They say their cameras were rated higher by officers who tested them and their total cost is half a million dollars cheaper than the company the department is now choosing.
“Why would the city buy a less capable product and spend a half a million dollars more for it. That's the fundamental question we have,” said Utility CEO Bob McKeeman.
Utility is a DeKalb County tech company that until recently thought they were set to move ahead with a contract to provide body cameras to the Atlanta Police Department.
“Everyone we talked to the response was we had by far the best solution,” McKeeman said.
The company, based in Decatur, already provides APD with wireless routers in patrol cars and mapping technology in the city's Video Integration Center.
McKeeman said a team of officers tested Utility body cameras in April and showed Viteri an email from May where APD recommended a contract and trial period with utility.
In a protest letter dated June 24 to the city's procurement department, Utility says in mid-May they were advised APD was going to select Utility and a purchase order was in process.
Last week McKeeman said he learned APD picked another company, Taser.
Channel 2’s Justin Farmer went to Arizona and got an up-close look at Taser cameras in February.
Taser's proposed bid to APD was $2.9 million, $500,000 more than Utility's.
“It's personally affecting my tax base I don't want to see the city spend a half a million dollars for a less capable product,” McKeeman said.
Utility's camera lens fits in the officer's vest and is programmed to record automatically
The camera then uploads video as well as the officer's GPS coordinates. Competitor cameras are worn externally and the officer manually starts recording.
It's an approach McKeeman told Viteri that puts the officer at risk.
“The officer needs to focus on being a police officer and not have to worry about being a videographer,” McKeeman said.
In their letter, Utility said they are also providing Atlanta Department of Corrections with body cameras.
A spokesperson for the mayor's office says procurement has received the protest on this matter and it is under review, and the contract issue won't be presented to City Council on Monday if it's not resolved.