Sheriff’s Office gets body cameras

The Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Department is working with the U.S. Department of Justice to craft policy on departmental use of body cameras.

The Justice Department reviewed preliminary plans for use of the systems that will become available to the department July 1. Major William B. Knott is in the final stages of creating a robust policy including parameters of use and storage duration.

“One of the things you run into with these systems is the storage,” Major Knott said. “We have decided to go with evidence.com. They use a Microsoft cloud based storage system.”

This system would download officer’s footage when they are placed on the chargers. The plan is to hold the footage for around 90 days, with the exception of footage that will clearly be used as evidence.

Major Knott explained a study completed in California on body cameras. The department in California was receiving reports of excessive force, but after implementation of the body cameras, the number of excessive force incidents dropped to zero.

“A lot of the times what happens is you will make an arrest, then when the summons comes around 45 days later, people will say ‘oh, well, they were crappy with me,’” Major Knott said. “These cameras will protect our officers from false claims.”

The body cameras were paid for in part by the Justice Department. The $16,000 grant for body camera technology was made available to 74 agencies. The Dinwiddie Sheriffs Department is one of 300 agencies that applied.

The body cameras are not the only new tech the department will be receiving. The company that sells the body cameras is offering tasers as a part of the package.

“In the wake of events in Ferguson and New York, we have to arm ourselves with systems that protect citizens and officers alike,” Sheriff D.T. “Duck” Adams said, “and part of that is non-lethal force.”

These non-lethal systems are not entirely new to the department. Sheriff Adams still has a stun gun that was used many years ago, but the old technology required officers to engage in close quarters.

Sheriff Adams has been in the spotlight recently for decals on his cruisers that read “In God We Trust.” Adams is reaching out to Sheriff’s Departments in neighboring counties to share this initiative.

“I think every Sheriff’s Department in the state should have these decals,” Sheriff Adams said. “We have had some negative feedback on Facebook concerning the decals. I guess there are some atheists that are saying this is a separation of church and state issue. I see it as a freedom of speech issue.”

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