Police to replace problematic body cameras with a better product

By Ralph Echtinaw

Faced with multiple problems with Provision body cameras, St. Louis Police are turning to the products of Digital Ally, which are expected to be a vast improvement.

City council approved a five-year lease ($30,445) of eight FirstVu Pro Body camera kits with an eight-bay docking station from Digital Ally on Tuesday, Oct. 18. The first year’s cost is covered by a grant from the Gratiot Community Foundation.

Police Chief Richard J. Ramereiz Jr. briefed council members on the trouble with Provision products.

Two of the department’s Provision cameras are broken. The rest will be out of warranty soon. And “90 percent of our problems start occurring as soon as the warranty expires,” Ramereiz said. “As soon as they run out of warranty we start having issues.”

Ramereiz cited a faulty docking station, too. “As soon as it went out of warranty we had a connector issue,” he said. “(Provision) won’t fix the connector. They’re telling us we have to buy a new one. It adds to the problems I found with Provision. I do not want to stay with them. Nor do I want to buy any more of their products to replace what we have that we are currently having issues with only to know we’re going to have continued problems with them in the future.”

Body cameras on police officers started to become a thing around 2010, and by 2013 a third of American police department used them. Nowadays almost all police officers wear body cameras.

“I don’t know if I can find enough words to stress the importance of body cameras,” Ramereiz said. 

They’re particularly useful when citizens complain about mistreatment by police officers.

Ramereiz told council members of a defendant who claimed discrimination on the part of an arresting officer. He said body cam video of the arrest “totally contradicted what the (defendant) said. I called the attorney back and played the camera for him, and his words to me were, ‘Thanks you. I’m going to go fire my client now.’”

Parks and Recreation vacancy

Council members accepted (with regret) the resignation of Amanda Kelly from the parks and recreation commission.

Kelly wrote the following in a letter to City Manager Kurt Giles: “It saddens me to write this email, but after a lot of consideration I need to step down from the Parks Commission. I have been trying to ‘do it all’ and can’t anymore. I need to take a few things off my plate, and unfortunately parks will need to be one of them. I feel like I will miss more meetings than I am able to attend, and that’s not fair to you guys. I have really enjoyed my time working with everyone and am proud of everything we have accomplished.”

Kelly’s resignation was particularly regretted because she was the chair of the parks commission. Mary Reed has stepped up to replace her. But there is still a vacancy. Contact city hall if you’re interested.

The city also has vacancies on the planning commission and the Gratiot Area Water Authority. The empty planning commission slot is supposed to be filled by a city council member, but none of the current council members want to do it. Amending the ordinance to make that slot fillable by any city resident was discussed, and council seemed to favor doing so.

Sentinel coverage of airport praised

In briefing council members on Gratiot Community Airport situation, where the county and Alma are in a bit of a standoff as to which will gain sole control of the airport, Giles praised Sentinel coverage of the issue: “Ralph Echtinaw wrote a nice piece on that recently,” he said. “(What) I heard at the airport board meeting last week reinforced what I read in Ralph’s article.”


A forgotten storm sewer manhole was discovered recently by Rite-Way Asphalt while replacing pavement on North Street. The hole was installed in 1980 and eventually paved over, “so no one knew it was there,” wrote Public Services Director Keith Risdon in his monthly report. DPW personnel raised the structure cover so it can again be used to access the sewer.

New hire

The city hired Ryan Hallman for the wastewater treatment plant. Hallman is current in the Water Environmental Technology program at Delta College. He will work with the current operator-in-charge, P.J. McGillis and operator Al Strouse.

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