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Virginia Beach Police add body cameras to the force

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The Virginia Beach Police Department is adding body cameras to their officers.

They are the last department in Hampton Roads to implement the technology, but the department doesn't see that as a bad thing.

"We have been very certain and safe to be as methodical as possible. We wanted to take our time and get it right," explained Captain Todd Jones with the Virginia Beach Police Department. "We did not want to hurry into a mistake and duplicate problems or challenges that other agencies had developed."

The city began looking into body cameras back in 2014. After years of researching body cameras, companies, storage and procedures, they eventually decided to work with a company named Axon.

In addition to body cameras, the city will also get new dash cameras from the company as well as software and hardware to help the cameras run. According to Captain Todd Jones, finding the right fit was essential to adding cameras to the force.

In total, the department purchased 450 body cameras at the price of $4.4-$5.6 million. The contract with Axon is for five years. Captain Jones says a grant of $302,000 was given to the department to assist with the cost.

The body cameras will be worn on the officer's chest and will have to be manually turned on. Officers are being asked to turn on the camera before any interaction. However, if an officer uses their taser or their firearm, a sensor will automatically turn the camera on as well as all cameras within 30 feet.

Body cameras have already been put on officers in the Kempsville precinct. It will take between 18 and 24 months for all cameras to be put on the streets. They will be rolled out in four different phases; each phase will bring another 110 cameras to the streets.