The North Augusta Department of Public Safety is now using body cameras.
More than 50 sworn officers will be hitting the streets with the devices clipped on their uniforms.
“Just better documentation really. As you know, for years we’ve been using in-car cameras which have their limitations such as when a police car pulls up whichever direction the car is pointing is the only shot of video you get,” Sgt. Luke Sherman said.
But now, the video and audio goes wherever the officer goes.
“If it’s for a case that the officer is making an arrest on and he needs to the video for prosecution, the jury will be able to see or the judge will be able to see exactly what that officer saw,” Sherman said.
For Officer Kristopher Howard, it’s going to take some time to get use to pushing the record button every time he interacts with the public.
“I would say the cons to our cameras is just changing out the batteries. The only last for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours and we have to change them out, but that’s something we’ll get use to,” Howard said.
Each camera costs about $700.
The devices are always recording, although, the video is only saved when the officer hits the record button.
Officers will need to remember to follow certain guidelines while using the cameras.
“So now, basically at the end of a shift, an officer will take his DVR that his camera hooks to, he docks it into a station, and it automatically uploads to the server,” Sherman said.
The NDPS is hoping the cameras will make the agency more transparent.
“If any official request was received to review video, that video will be made available,” Sherman said.
As for other local agencies:
– Richmond County will start using body cams on July 1st.
– Harlem and Hephzibah’s Police Departments and Grovetown Public Safety are already using them.
– The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office and the Aiken Department of Public Safety are currently testing body cameras.
– The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is not using them and has not made a decision on when they could be used.