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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Lawsuit Keeping Atlanta Cop Body Cams in Limbo

ATLANTA (CN) - The City of Atlanta's effort to equip police officers with body cameras has been delayed, due to a lawsuit filed by a technology company that says the City conducted a faulty bidding process for the cameras.

The Decatur-based, venture-capital funded company, Utility Associates, Inc. sued the city of Atlanta in Fulton County Superior Court, asserting it first offered them the contract but then offered the contract to two rival companies.

In its complaint, Utility asserts that it was "selected to be a vendor for body cameras and related video management services for the Atlanta Police Department," but then "the City sought to sole source the contract to another vendor."

"After the sole sourcing attempting failed, in part because of Utility's objections, the City ostensibly sought to conduct a 'competitive bid process,'" the complaint continues. "However, that process is and has been fatally flawed from the outset, both facially and in application, all to Utility's detriment."

The complaint was filed in December, and the Atlanta police body cam program has been in limbo ever since.

Utility Associates CEO Robert McKeeman, told Courthouse News, "We feel strongly that the process followed by the City of Atlanta for the public procurement of body cameras for the Atlanta Police Department was biased, arbitrary, and erroneous. As a Georgia-based company, it is our responsibility to the public to help ensure local government follows its own rules and acts with transparency in the best interest of taxpayers."

"The City has failed to provide due process to Utility and now wants to proceed with performing the contract with the proponent deemed the winner while Utility's Protest is pending, thus threatening to bar Utility from obtaining any effective relief in its Protests," the complaint states.

A spokesperson for the City of Atlanta said, "While the City disagrees with Utility Associates, Inc.'s allegations and the Court's decision, it terminated its Body Camera and Video Management pilot program ("the Pilot") with Watch Guard."

"The Atlanta Police Department developed and finalized its body camera standard operating procedure before issuing approximately 110 body cameras to trained officers seven weeks ago," the City's spokesperson continued. "Although this critical public safety initiative temporarily stopped, the City gained valuable insight from the Pilot and will move forward with a program for the entire APD, ensuring the safety of its citizens by restoring this policing tool."

For his part, McKeeman says his company stands ready "to work with the Court and City officials to solve this dispute in a swift manner and find a solution that benefits both the Atlanta Police Department and the citizens of Atlanta."

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