Orland Park Police Chief Joseph Mitchell makes presentations for a therapy dog and body cameras during the village’s Committee of the Whole meeting on July 19. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Orland Park Police Chief Joseph Mitchell makes presentations for a therapy dog and body cameras during the village’s Committee of the Whole meeting on July 19. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Orland cops looking for comfort from dog and cameras

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By Jeff Vorva

Orland Park’s police department is in line to get a dog and some body cameras.

The dog may cost the village $100. The cameras may cost closer to $1 million.

At the village’s Committee of the Whole meeting on July 19, the board of trustees voted to take the police’s request for a dog and body cameras to a future village board meeting for approval.

Police Chief Joseph Mitchell said a therapy dog would be a service to the officers and the public.

“Having a dog for our staff, we believe will be beneficial to reduce stress,” Mitchell said. “It will also help us when we deal with suicide attempts and dealing with mental health issues or cases in which children are involved.

“People generally are afraid of the police or they don’t like the police. Having a dog there while conducting interviews may help us reduce anxiety so we can get more information.”

The department is looking into obtaining a dog from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Paws and Stripes College in Florida. Interestingly, Mitchell said these dogs are trained by prison inmates.

The dog will be free to the department and food, travel officer training time in Florida are provided by the adopting agency, Mitchell said. Orland Park will pay $100 for certification of the dog.

If this request gets passed by the board, the police figure on picking up the dig in September and likely will be choosing a Labrador.

The body cameras will be a lot more expensive as the village is looking at close to a $975,000 investment for a five-year program with Axon Body and Fleet Cameras for 116 body-worn cameras with two upgrades, 11 body-worn cameras with docks and wall mounts and assorted other equipment.

The state mandates that municipalities with a population between 50,000-100,000 to have cameras by Jan. 1, 2024. Mitchell said it was important for Orland Park to have it sooner.

“The union is 100 percent behind this,” he said. “It’s going to be beneficial for the citizens, for prosecution and more important, the officers. When they get out of their car, they know they are going to be protected.”

Mitchell and his staff tested three camera services and recommended Axon partly because its cameras have a large activation button, it’s easy to download videos from the cameras to a server, it’s able to be charged in a vehicle and a live stream from a specific camera is able to be activated.

Axon originally wanted to charge the village approximately $1.3 million but the village negotiated down the price. The bid from Motorola Watchguard was $745,000 and a bid from Panasonic was $1.2 million.

Mitchell said the Axon package was the best, even though it was not the least expensive and Mayor Keith Pekau agreed.

“We don’t have to choose low bidder, we can choose the best bidder,” he said.

Pekau said that in emergency situations, top officers in the command center can watch what is going on and it will cut down on radio chatter during incidents with uncertainties.

“It’s a very expensive investment but in the long term it is worth it.” Mitchell said.

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