Waukee, Des Moines Police Get Body Cam Donation

A private donation is making body cameras a reality

By Claire Powell | cpowell@weareiowa.com

Published 05/29 2015 06:12PM

Updated 05/29 2015 06:12PM

Both the Waukee and Des Moines Police Departments received big donations toward body cameras on Friday morning.

Rod French has been the owner and principal dealer for Kenworth Mid-Iowa, Inc. in Des Moines for the past 47 years. After having a conversation with long-time friend Waukee Police Chief John Quinn, he realized that he wanted to donate money to help out the police departments struggling to afford body cameras.

"If we ever had a problem, we called the police and they’d help us. Now they don’t have the budget and we need to help them,” said French, who announced he’s retiring and turning the dealership over to Kansas City-based MHC Company.

Waukee Police received $14,000 which covers all the cost for 18 body cameras, data and storage equipment.

"There’s not one officer in Waukee that hasn’t embraced this. It’s going to help them in their professionalism and it’ll be documented. With that said, it’ll hold them to the higher standards and that’s a good thing,” said Waukee Police Chief John Quinn.

Des Moines Police received a donation of $125,000 which will pay for half of their 360 body cameras needed to outfit every officer.

"French indicated he may inspire others and I’m for that, but this takes a chunk out of the expenditure and if we have to make sacrifices we will,” said Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert.

When accepting these large donations, there isn’t any protocol that Des Moines Police Department has to follow.

"If the donor wanted to be anonymous, so be it. That’s still visible, no name with it, but it’s not something that we hide or can hide or want to hide,” said Sgt. Jason Halifax, Des Moines Police.

In the past many donations come with a set purpose, such as the DMACC Veterinary School donating $1,400 to buy a K-9 unit a bullet-proof vest.

"As soon as someone comes to us and says, “I’ll give to this” and that money is earmarked for that purpose only,” said Sgt. Halifax.

Sgt. Halifax says the body camera donations are accepted in the same way. He says the goal for body cameras and the donation process is to be open and transparent with the public.

"Previous donations that we've got have been put to good use. This is earmarked for body cameras; this gets us moving in the right direction,” said Wingert.

"See the scrutiny law is the wave of the future and we're embracing it and changing policy and through this process and purchase. We’re going to enhance the community trust in the police and how we do things,” said Quinn.

The Waukee Police Department is hoping to use their cameras by this August. The Des Moines Police Department is still trying to decide which camera model to use and hope to use the money by next year. 

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