Douglas County Sheriff’s Office prepping for body cameras
Body cameras will soon become as necessary as a badge and a gun for deputies patrolling Douglas County’s streets.
The sheriff’s office is preparing to implement a bill passed by the 2017 Nevada Legislature that mandates law enforcement officials wear body cameras while on duty.
“There’s pros and cons to it, but it’s coming, and we’ll be ready for it,” Sheriff Ron Pierini said in a recent interview.
Introduced by Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, Senate Bill 176 was signed into law May 25 by Gov. Brian Sandoval. The bill states, “A law enforcement agency shall require uniformed peace officers that it employs and who routinely interact with the public to wear a portable event recording device while on duty.”
The bill goes into effect July 1, 2018.
Sheriff’s officials knew the mandate was coming and started preparing last year, Pierini said. The department underwent a feasibility study, testing various companies that provide camera services and studying how to best store the data. Deputies had never before used body cameras, he said. Department officials are also developing policies and procedures for implementing the cameras.
Rolling out the body cameras will cost the department about $250,000, Pierini said, with an estimated $100,000 per year in recurring costs. A portion of the recurring costs will go toward funding a systems administrator position to oversee the footage.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has 99 sworn personnel, Pierini said. Cameras will be deployed to patrol officers, investigators, some jail employees and “anybody who is actually doing enforcement,” he said.
Statewide, 17 sheriffs departments and 35 city police departments will be affected by the bill, he said.
Pierini said he sees both positives and negatives to implementing the cameras.
“By having that kind of camera, you can at least read what happened and was it legitimate or not,” he said. “It’s a really positive thing if you look at it as a tool.”
However, Pierini worries the cameras will make people feel less comfortable around law enforcement.
“I don’t hear a lot of people saying ‘Why don’t you have those?’” he said. “I think we have a great law enforcement department. We don’t have those sorts of issues that happen.”