Columbus' top cop and firemen request upgrades for department

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - In a world where everyone is watching everyone, police officers around the nation are now arming themselves with body cameras.

And so will Columbus police officers in the near future, according to Chief Ricky Boren.

"The truth is there and I think you would see 98 percent clearance on complaints against my officers," stated Boren.

Twenty officers within the department including motor squad officers will be equipped with the video recording devices as part of a new pilot program.

But Chief Boren said during Tuesday's work session with council, he also needs to update his patrol fleet and get rid of worn out cars and outdated 35 millimeter cameras. The films from those cameras are used in court for domestic violence cases.

Then there's the problem of old vehicles officers are using to transport criminals and answer 911 calls.

"I've got cars as old as 2001 models or 2004 and some with as much as 160,000 miles on them," added Boren.

Boren says he also has more than a dozen cars to be turned in due to maintenance needs overriding the cost as part of the city's "turn-in" policy.  Monday, he asked council to redirect $700,000 in unused money in his 2014 budget to pay for the upgrades.

Columbus Fire & EMS Chief Jeff Meyer told council he needs $4.5 million to replace a decades old training facility at Fourth Street and Jackson Avenue. "We're looking at critical needs, we're looking at firefighter-EMT drill tower facility and it's over 24 years. old. It's met its useful life."

City council made no decision today which is normal during work sessions. They simply took the matters into consideration for a vote at a later date.

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