FOREST CITY | The Winnebago County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 27 approved a proposal from the sheriff's office to replace its aging vehicle cameras and computers, as well as body cameras, through a lease agreement.
The agreement with Keltek will cost the county $35,898 a year for five years.
Sheriff Dave Peterson said the idea is to pay some money every year for the equipment rather than spending a large amount of money every five years or so to purchase new equipment.
He noted car cameras have a lifespan of around five years, and the ones currently in the patrol cars are more than six years old.
Body cams have an even shorter lifespan as they generally last only about three years, according to Peterson.
The Hancock County Sheriff's Office, the Forest City Police Department and the Iowa State Patrol already have lease agreements through Keltek for their car and body cameras.
The agreements are not lease-to-own because by the end of the five years the equipment is outdated.
The agreement includes service and replacement.
If something goes wrong with a piece of equipment, Keltek will repair it or replace it within 24 hours, according to Peterson.
The money for the lease payments will come from Winnebago County Jail revenue.
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Peterson said the jail, which houses Hancock County inmates as well as those from Winnebago County, is currently getting around $20,000 a month in revenue.
The sheriff's office keeps 60 percent of the revenue while 40 percent goes into the county's general fund.
Peterson said even if the jail revenue was reduced to $10,000 a month for some reason, there would still be enough to make the equipment lease payments and still have money in the department's reserve.
He also said no taxpayer dollars would be used for the lease payments.
"That's very important to me," he said.
Supervisor Bill Jensvold said two residents told him they have concerns as to whether the county can afford the lease payments.
"It's not an easy pill to swallow on my end, either, but we did the homework and I think it's the way to go," Peterson said.
Jensvold said he told the residents who approached him that it's important for the sheriff's office to have functioning cameras so the deputies' interactions with suspects can be recorded.
"If you have it on camera, it's pretty easy to prove your point (in court)," he said.