As of Monday, the Sheriff’s Office began using body worn cameras. Most uniformed deputies will be required to wear the cameras as a routine part of that uniform. All members who will be using the cameras completed their training last week.
The Sheriff’s policy requires they be worn by road patrol deputies and sergeants, school resource deputies, civil deputies, traffic deputies, airport deputies and sergeants and detectives when they are in uniform. Detectives may also wear them when in plain clothes.
“We are confident these cameras will help to enhance deputy safety and trust between the community and the agency,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “Having video and audio recordings of our interactions with the public can only help us when it comes to our interactions with people in the field. It will reassure the public and our officers that we are open, honest and professional in the way we deal with people on a day to day basis and, if we do have training issues we need to deal with, it will help us to identify those issues so we can take care of them quickly.”
The Sheriff’s Office has had in-car video cameras and body-worn microphones for years and the agency’s experience has been that having more information, and clear evidence, can only help when it comes to law enforcement.
“We have had many instances where video from our in-car cameras has served to clarify the way an incident unfolded,” said Sheriff Ramsay. “We expect the new body-worn cameras to simply enhance these benefits. Oftentimes having video of an incident helps to deescalate both sides of a confrontation,” he said.
Before putting the cameras in the field, the Sheriff’s Office Professional Standards Unit spent considerable time reviewing policies from other agencies and writing a comprehensive policy about the use of the cameras. The Sheriff’s Office Training Unit put together a four-hour block of training which all officers must attend before using the cameras. The training addresses everything from the way the cameras should be worn to the content of the policy and the mechanics of the camera itself.