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Superior City Council OKs purchase of body cameras, stun guns

The new gear will replace aging items and ensure officers have the tools they need.

File: Superior Police Department.jpg
Superior Police Department squads sit outside the Government Center in 2018. (Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram)

The Superior City Council at its Tuesday, Dec. 21, meeting approved spending more than $500,000 to replace the Superior Police Department’s aging stun guns, body cameras and squad cameras.

The purchase, which would be spread out over five years, would be paid with capital improvement project dollars and reimbursed with funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

The new equipment is needed, said 1st District Councilor Nicholas Ledin.

“Sixteen reports of body cam failure this year; battery life is at four to six hours for a 12-hour shift, not ideal. Currently, SPD does not even have enough Tasers for all officers going out on patrol. They are needed. They need to be updated,” he said.

At a presentation before the city’s public safety committee Dec. 15, Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander told committee members that the tools have improved the department's capabilities and increased community trust.

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RELATED:

  • Superior City Council mulls new police body cameras, Tasers The SPDs current equipment is failing at an 'unsustainable rate,' according to Capt. Paul Winterscheidt.
  • Douglas County Board OKs settlement in national opioid lawsuit Superior City Council will consider similar agreements when it meets Tuesday, Dec. 21.

“We have a system that’s being held together with Band-Aids right now, so it needs to be addressed,” he said.
The $573,000 price tag for the new gear is expected to increase by 5% in 2022, so purchasing it now could save the city money.

“The funding is there for it. It gives our officers the best tools and equipment to do their job most effectively and safely, both for themselves and for our interactions with community members,” Alexander said.

He said the items would be ordered next week and are expected to arrive in Superior by February.

Opioid settlement

The council also approved signing paperwork that would allow the city to settle with opioid manufacturers and producers. Superior is one of 11 Wisconsin cities involved in the opioid lawsuit, along with 71 counties and the state itself. A settlement with four companies is in the works that would provide $26 billion nationwide for opioid treatment and recovery services.

“This will, for all intents and purposes, probably represent the biggest momentum we’ll have in litigation,” city attorney Frog Prell said, although additional pharmaceutical companies could settle in the future.

It is anticipated that the city would receive roughly $250,000 from this settlement, he said, and Douglas County is expected to receive about $1.5 million.

“While the city of Superior hopes to reclaim some specific dollar amount that we will have control of spending, we’re part of a larger group of municipalities and counties that must all approve this,” Mayor Jim Paine said. “So, in effect, you are helping to mitigate Douglas County’s opioid crisis and the state of Wisconsin’s opioid crisis and the national crisis. So we’re acting as part of a team here. Your participation is necessary.”

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The funds could be used for programs such as the Superior Police Department’s Pathways to Hope, which offers drug treatment in place of incarceration for nonviolent offenders who qualify. Alexander said the program, which he launched in 2018, has become a source of pride and hope.

“We really need to see the benefit, you know, of having some compassion and recognizing that there’s other solutions besides just arresting people, and how that can impact lives,” he said.

This story originally contained an incorrect total for the amount of money Superior expects to receive from the opioid settlement. It was updated at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 23, 2021 with the proper amount. The Telegram regrets the error.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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