Madison Co. deputies begin using body cameras

Published: Nov. 5, 2014 at 3:36 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 3, 2014 at 3:36 PM CST
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Madison Co. Sheriff's Dept. officials will now wear body cameras. (Source: WAFF)
Madison Co. Sheriff's Dept. officials will now wear body cameras. (Source: WAFF)

MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning announced the rollout of body cameras for all uniformed patrol deputies.

The department purchased cameras in August for 90 units. The U.S. Department of Justice provided a grant to off-set some of the cost of the cameras.

Madison County deputies have been trained to use cameras and several were placed in service in September and October for tests and evaluations.

The department officially started using the cameras last week. A body camera is about half the size of an iPhone and sits in a cradle attached to the chest of a deputy's uniform.

The cameras can record audio and video and will follow a deputy into an investigation. The recordings can then be reviewed in the deputy's in-car mobile data terminal and can then be stored on a cloud for later review if necessary.

Deputy Ryan Koch is still getting comfortable with the new camera system.

"As soon as we're pulling up and we put ourselves on scene, (we) go ahead and turn it on," Koch said. "It's there, so as long as you're doing what you're supposed to do there's not going to be any problems."

Deputies cannot delete recordings. Video will be uploaded to a cloud storage system, which deputies cannot change or delete. They will be able to access the video as they make out incident reports.

The cameras were put in place in hopes of encouraging accountability and oversight for the agency and the public. And as with busts, chases and uses of forse elsewhere, department leaders said the camera can protect its people from false accusations of misconduct.

"There will be an allegation that 'The deputy was rude to me,' 'I was handled with excessive force,' things of that nature," explained Chief Deputy Dave Jernigan. "We're hoping that the camera will be able to clarify that."

Jernigan added that he thinks the new technology will reduce liability and be an invaluable tool in investigating both crime and internal matters.

Athens Police Department and Limestone County Sheriff's Office are both currently using body cameras as well. Both agencies have given the body cameras positive reviews. It was those reviews which led Madison County to ultimately invest in the system.

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