Soon, all Bulloch County sheriff’s deputies will wear body cameras, thanks to the purchase of 30 units paid for with seized drug funds.
Paired with newly installed digital dash cameras in patrol cars, the cameras will enable deputies to more accurately record evidence regarding traffic stops, arrests and other incidents, said Bulloch County Sheriff Noel Brown.
The Sheriff’s Office now joins fellow law enforcement agencies including Georgia Southern University police and Statesboro police in wearing body cameras. According to a Georgia State Patrol Post 45 spokesperson, troopers have dash cameras but do not currently wear body cameras.
The Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office body cameras — 30 of them, including accessories — cost $1,000 each. The purchase was funded with $30,000 from seized drug funds, costing county taxpayers nothing. And the 10 patrol car cameras that were updated this year were purchased with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds and money budgeted for Sheriff’s Office equipment, Brown said.
The digital patrol car cameras replaced “worn DVD-based recorders” that were obsolete or inoperable.
“Many of these older in-car recording systems were in need of repair or replacement” at the time he took office, Brown said.
He requires that all deputies responding to calls wear the body cameras.
“Use of body cameras will be mandatory for uniformed personnel who routinely answer calls and interact with the public,” he said. “The new cameras have proven to be an asset and have provided video evidence in several cases.”
However, there is always more evidence to be considered in each case, and by no means will deputies rely solely on the cameras when responding to and investigating crimes, he said.
People “should not make snap decisions based on video,” he said. “All evidence in a case should be examined, along with the video, before drawing any conclusions.”
The inclusion of body cameras in deputies’ daily gear has been a welcome addition, Brown said.
“Local prosecutors, deputies and the public alike all have been very receptive to the new cameras and see the value of the devices documenting incidents and providing transparency,” he said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.