Georgia County Government - Winter 2015 - (Page 16)

FeAture Focus: PublIc sAFety the impaCt of Body Worn Cameras IN THE WAKE of recent news reports, the issue of body cameras worn by law enforcement officers has become more prevalent. There has been a public demand for law enforcement officials to wear body cameras to improve and increase accountability and transparency. There are many concerns related to the use of body cameras as expressed by the many stakeholders involved in this issue. This article will outline some of those concerns as articulated by two stakeholder groups, county sheriffs and the courts. County Sheriffs Contribution from Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, Georgia Sheriffs' Association Past President. A July 7, 2015, article published in Time Magazine entitled "Sheriffs are Lonely Holdouts as Police Body Cameras Grow in Use," reported that more than 7,000 of the nation's 18,000 police departments, which 16 GeorGia County Government includes over 3,000 sheriffs' offices, have adopted the use of body worn cameras. In an effort to illustrate this point, the article further reported that only four of 102 Illinois sheriffs and two of Florida's 66 sheriffs have implemented usage of the cameras. Sheriffs are directly accountable to the citizens who elect them and in that capacity they are quite cognizant that they are personally responsible for the expenditure of the public's tax money. When they venture into new technology and systems, they are very careful not to acquire something that might soon be obsolete or inadequate as a result of a rapid shift in public policy or the enactment of new laws. A recent survey of Georgia sheriffs revealed that 20 or more are presently using body worn cameras in some respect. While the vast majority of Georgia sheriffs consider the use of body worn cameras by deputy sheriffs to be a good idea, the long term cost of data image storage and retrieval represents their most pressing concern. As sheriffs' offices throughout the state are underfunded and lack adequate personnel and resources, there is great concern over the overall cost of implementing camera usage. As one sheriff said," Our deputies are the lowest paid of all law enforcement officers in our state and they drive Crown Victoria vehicles with over 200,000 miles on them, how can our small county possibly afford to implement and maintain body worn cameras?" Another significant uncertainty regarding the use of body worn cameras relates to the issue of privacy. Video recordings, except those associated with an active investigation or pending prosecution, are subject to release in accordance with Georgia's "Open Records Act", and virtually anyone can obtain them by simply asking. Without some legislation limiting recordings, there will most assuredly be litigation filed against sheriffs, counties, and cities for violating the privacy of people

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - Winter 2015

President’s Message
Director’s Desk
Legislative Preview
ACCG District Days
The Impact of Body Worn Cameras
Georgia House Bill 310: What it Really Means to Local Governments and Communities
Mobile Integrated Healthcare/ Community Paramedicine – In your County’s Future?
Q & A With Dr. Jill Mabley, Medical Director of Cherokee County Fire & EMS
Three Technologies Improve Efficiencies in Georgia County Jails and Courts
Counties and Inmate Medical Assistance
Dealing with the Mentally Ill in Jails
News & Notes
Index of Advertisers

Georgia County Government - Winter 2015