Body cameras will soon become a reality at the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office after Delaware County Commissioners approved a budget reallocation for the equipment.
Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin has been advocating to get body cameras for the sheriff’s office for years, but said that budget and privacy policies around having the cameras have been a challenge.
At its regular meeting on Oct. 17, the commissioners approved a transfer of $40,000 from the computer services portion of the sheriff’s office budget to the capital equipment section of the budget.
Martin said these funds will be used for data storage and other equipment to accommodate the cameras.
“Data storage will be a significant cost,” Martin said. “We will store it locally and had to make some purchases to accommodate that.”
Martin said the cameras will be slowly rolled out with supervisors and trainers and once they are comfortable and knowledgeable with them they will be given to deputies. Martin estimated the office would go online with all of the equipment in 2017.
“Research shows that when people realize they are being recorded their behavior changes for the affirmative,” Martin said. “(Cameras) have been shown to reduce resisting arrests and reduce responses to resistance. I do think it’s going to be part of the ongoing community expectations.”
But the budget and technology was just one hurdle and said the sheriff’s office is looking at solving the other problem with body cameras, privacy.
“We have to make sure we have a policy that covers as much as possible of the issues we’ll be dealing with,” Martin said. “The biggest issue is the subject of personal privacy. There has to be balance between personal private rights and freedom to review public records. It’s a delicate balance.”
Martin said leadership at the sheriff’s office is currently reviewing and establishing a policy about privacy and public records.
“We are also working with the schools since these cameras will also be on school resources officers,” Martin said. “We have to be sensitive to privacy issues.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.