By Richard Sullins |

The Town of Broadway has been presented with a proposal to spend up to $50,000 over a five-year period to purchase body cameras for its police department.

Retiring Police Chief Todd Hinnant presented the proposal received from law enforcement equipment technology firm Axon at the town board’s meeting Monday. Mayor Pro Tempore Thomas Beal had requested that Hinnant obtain the quote before his retirement at the end of the year.

The quote includes a camera for each of the department’s four full-time officers and a fifth for use by reserve officers. It also includes four tasers, software licenses, and upgrades and replacements as they become available. Payments for the equipment would be made in installments of approximately $10,000 per year.

Video and audio captured by the data would be retained in a cloud-based system that is operated by Axon, although the Chief would decide who has access to the recordings. Mayor Donald Andrews says that the town already has a policy governing the use of tasers but would have to adopt guidelines for how body cameras might be employed.

Axon body camera equipment is currently used by both the Sanford Police Department and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. According to the company’s website, the largest purchase of its equipment was for 22,000 Axon cameras by the London Metropolitan Police Service and in the United States, the largest purchase was for 7,545 cameras by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Beal asked Hinnant how the use of cameras would benefit his officers and Hinnant replied “it can protect them from a certain type of liability. But it also protects the community from officers who might be heavy-handed and from incidents that might result in people coming in with complaints. The taser is a secondary weapon that our officers can use in place of a gun. It gives the officer a choice.”

Time Capsule Remains Being Preserved

Mayor Andrews informed the board that documents contained within the town’s time capsule that were opened on October 16 have been frozen as a document preservation company in Greensboro prepares them for eventual public display.

The items were interred in a child’s burial vault during Broadway’s 100th Anniversary celebration in 1970 at the northern foot of the town’s water tower. In the ensuing years, the seal on the container deteriorated and when someone fired a gunshot into the base of the tower and water leaked to the ground years afterwards, water seeped inside and about an inch of it was present in the bottom when the container was opened.

The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources referred the town to The HF Group in Greensboro, an Ohio-based corporation that is the only document preservation company with an office in the state. At the direction of the company, the documents inside the capsule were placed in Ziploc bags and put into a freezer for stabilization until the company could begin working with them.

Andrews reported Monday that in his most recent phone call with the company, “they told me two things: first, they said that they have seen worse, so there’s reason to be optimistic. Second, they said that they are short-staffed and their work is backed-up, so we shouldn’t expect to hear anything from them again until at least February.”

Newspaper accounts from the period indicate that the capsule contained a copy of a book published in 1970 as part of the centennial celebration and entitled “Broadway, North Carolina,” the fall 1970 Edition of McCall’s Pattern Book, favorite recipes of the time collected from the wives of the nation’s governors, 1970 Census reports from Broadway and Lee County, a local newspaper, articles by five local ministers and several children from Broadway Elementary School, a report card from the school, and even a picture of a canceled check.

According to these same accounts, the original plan in 1970 was that the capsule be unearthed and opened in 2020, its contents examined, and then reburied for another 50-year period. The intent seems to have been for the container to have been buried for the entire length of the town’s second century, except for a brief opening and reinterment at the 50-year mark in 2020. It was hoped that many of the town’s children living in 1970 would still be alive then and that an opening and reburial then of the container would help continue interest in the town’s history for years to come.

As the container was opened on October 16, a stack of documents about an inch and a half thick was present at the bottom of the capsule. But because the pile was submerged in water, an attempt to peel them apart that day to see what they might contain was deemed too risky and plans for preservation began to be discussed.

Christmas in Broadway

The annual tree lighting ceremony for the town’s Christmas tree will be on Sunday, December 5, at 4 pm. The Broadway Christmas Parade will take place the following Saturday, December 11, at 2 p.m.

The town board’s next meeting will be moved to Monday, December 20, so as not to conflict with the Christmas holidays.