The following press release has been issued by Towns County Sheriff's Office.
Beginning Friday, July 10, 2015, the Towns County Sheriff's Office has begun a policy of issuing body worn cameras to each of our deputies. The Towns County Sheriff's Office was able to purchase these cameras in part due to a contribution from the Towns County Homeowners Association. Jim Hancock, an alumni of Towns County Sheriff's Office’s Citizen Law Enforcement Academy, helped bring the donation about. After going through the training and becoming involved with the alumni, Mr. Hancock went back and spoke with other members of the association and they asked how they could help their sheriff's office. Sheriff Clinton suggested body worn cameras and the donation was made.
Through a combination of the donation, getting a good deal on the cameras, and the hard work of our staff to save money in other areas of the budget, the Towns County Sheriff's Office was able to purchase enough cameras for all uniformed deputies, including school resource and court services deputies, as well as detectives. It is the policy of the Sheriff's Office that during all official interactions between deputies and citizens the camera will be turned on. At the end of each shift, each camera’s contents will be downloaded and kept by the sheriff's office in the same manner as any evidence.
Body worn cameras have received a lot of press lately and many may have misconceptions of how they work, what they are capable of, and how they benefit the community and the law enforcement agency. While body worn cameras are arguably better than vehicle mounted cameras, they are not the final solution that many have made them out to be. They do have the advantage of moving with the officer, but unlike a human being, who has the mobility and intellect to turn their gaze in multiple directions, the camera is pointed in a single direction outward from the officer wearing it. That being said, perhaps the best thing about body worn cameras will prove to be the audio that is recorded.
It is important to remember that while there is much negative press about officers, the vast majority of officers do it right every day. I recently read two separate reports of surveys being conducted in which officers reported being more concerned with being prosecuted for performing their duties than being shot while performing their duties. All in all, while body worn cameras are certainly another step in openness and transparency for our sheriff's office, I also believe they will help protect the officers from false accusations. That gives me peace of mind for our public and our employees. I believe these cameras can only benefit both. The good thing about a camera is the fact that it has no bias or agenda; it simply records. That aspect of the camera should make it much easier to determine the simple truth of what happened in a situation. I am very glad that we are able to provide these cameras to our deputies.
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