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Deputies testing new cameras

Sunday, Aug 11, 2013 4:52 PM
Last updated Monday, Aug 12, 2013 2:34 AM
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The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is looking to add an extra set of eyes on patrol, in the form of cameras clipped to the front of police uniforms.

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Augusta Richmond County Sheriff's Deputy Stephen Jones with his wearable video camera, called MUVI, on his chest in south Augusta.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Augusta Richmond County Sheriff's Deputy Stephen Jones with his wearable video camera, called MUVI, on his chest in south Augusta.
Sample video from an officer's camera.


Deputy Stephen Jones, who has worn a testing unit for the past two weeks, said the technology is simple to operate. With a Muvi body camera clipped at about chest level on his uniform, Jones showed how video can be captured without even touching the camera.

A small beeper-style device clipped to his belt allows Jones to switch on video, snap photos and end the recording, all while maintaining eye contact with the person he is speaking with.

He said he records every traffic stop.

“You can upload the videos, download them to a CD and turn them in as evidence to rectify any kind of complaints against you,” he said.

The Waynesboro Police Depart­ment has been using the technology for the past two years. Police Chief Augustus Palmer III said all sworn officers are equipped with the cameras, including himself. They are required by policy to record almost every interaction with civilians.

“If the officer is doing the right thing, it’s his best friend,” he said. “If he is doing something wrong, it’s his worst enemy.”

The cameras that his department uses cost between $100 to $200 each.

Blanchard said the sheriff’s office is still in the testing and research phase. Much like the license plate reader technology it is testing, the agency will try several types and styles of body-worn cameras before making a decision.

The units currently being tested range from $400 to $500 each. Unlike the license plate readers, there is no extra start-up cost to ensure software and hardware compatibility. The test units can plug into any office computer and transfer files like a smartphone.

Lt. Lewis Blanchard said a 2012 study found that 85 percent of law enforcement officers say body-worn cameras reduce false claims of misconduct and the likelihood of litigation against the agency.

Palmer said he agrees. Since his department mandated the cameras on all officers, complaints against officers have dropped drastically.

Sheriff Richard Roundtree and Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton saw the technology implemented while working on the Richmond County Board of Education Police Department, Blanchard said.

“They saw that it was a positive thing and saw the results there, even on a smaller scale. That made them want to move forward with bringing it here,” he said.

The catch is the cost associated with using the technology on a larger scale. The sheriff’s office dwarfs the school system in sworn officers.

It might be a while before Augustans will see every officer with a camera. Blanchard said the soonest the sheriff’s office would purchase cameras is next year.

“Anything you’re testing and evaluating this year is for purchase next year,” he said.

Palmer said any agency looking into the technology should also look to include a policy on its use. He said that would help prevent abuse of the technology.

“Everyone needs to have a policy to not record each other,” he said. “We don’t need to record co-workers, just the traffic stops and the face-to-face encounters.”

Comments (17) Add comment
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itsanotherday1
48346
Points
itsanotherday1 08/11/13 - 04:18 pm
9
0
These devices are worth every

These devices are worth every cent, and should be mandatory for every policeman and in use for every contact with another person. It protects the good cops against the liars and protects the good citizen from the lying cop. I'm especially adamant about their use in traffic stops, as I know two people whom I trust who say they did not veer and were subsequently stopped for a DUI investigation. Both had been followed shortly after pulling out of a pub. In both cases, one the GSP, and the other ColCo; they claimed the camera was broken, so had nothing but their word that they didn't maintain lane. I call baloney on that; their probable cause was 12 o'clock at night and leaving a bar. The camera would give prosecutors a slam dunk in those cases, and make them leave people alone who are not driving erratically.

IBeDogGone
3015
Points
IBeDogGone 08/11/13 - 04:49 pm
1
4
Confused

I agree they are worth every penny they cost but I do not see how they would benefit an officer in a traffic situation. If they are at chest level and he is following in patrol car I would hope the would not let his head touch the headliner in patrol car to get his camera above steering wheel. Once he reaches the vehicle and begans a conversation yes that could be benificial.

Little Lamb
49138
Points
Little Lamb 08/11/13 - 09:38 pm
4
1
Inspector Gadget

Sheriff Roundtree needs to go slow. He has introduced so many gadgets in the past eight months that his deputies will be burdened by too much technology too soon. Watch out when they mistake their taser for their radio and their muvi for their sidearm.

Young Fred
21145
Points
Young Fred 08/12/13 - 02:42 am
1
0
A double edged sword for

A double edged sword for sure.

corgimom
38542
Points
corgimom 08/12/13 - 03:28 am
1
4
Itsa, I don't know your

Itsa, I don't know your friends, I wasn't there; but people who have been drinking always think that they have been driving normally.

However, if they weren't DUI, then there shouldn't have been a problem.

I've known a few DUI recipients in my day, and every single one of them, without exception, will tell you that they weren't drunk and that they were driving normally and got stopped for NO REASON. NO REASON. And that they couldn't have possibly blown the BAL that they did, because they only had 2 beers.

Every single one of them say that.

Young Fred
21145
Points
Young Fred 08/12/13 - 05:09 am
3
2
Corgi -

I’ve known a few Cell-Phone talkers in my day, and every single one of them, without exception, will tell you that they weren’t distracted while they were driving. Every single one swears they can drive normally and they’re not acting like a jack-arz for NO REASON. NO REASON. And they couldn’t have possibly made that retarded move on Washington Rd or I20, no not them.

Every single one of them say that.

I hatz cell phones!!!

itsanotherday1
48346
Points
itsanotherday1 08/12/13 - 05:52 am
3
0
Corgi- A video would remove

Corgi- A video would remove all doubt, no? Seems a little funny that cameras were "out of order", don't you think?

IbeDoggone- I was referring to car cameras for traffic stops, and then lapel cameras for all face to face encounters.

nocnoc
49253
Points
nocnoc 08/12/13 - 06:13 am
4
0
All for them

as long as Acceptable Use Rules are established and enforced.
and the videos are only used in legal proceeding. Then deleted.

In other words, sold to TV or other media to supplement the RCSO budget.

dstewartsr
20393
Points
dstewartsr 08/12/13 - 06:42 am
4
0
These cameras

... will ALWAYS be "out of order" when the cop crosses over the line from police to perpetrator. Same as dash cams in patrol cars.

Sweet son
11674
Points
Sweet son 08/12/13 - 08:12 am
2
1
Little Lamb's is the only logical comment!

Roundtree and his underlings are having Christmas early since the first of the year. The AC needs to investigate how much extra money they have spent since January 1st and the rest of us should work to slow this joker down. I'm sure they will say it is all seized drug money.

Different cars, plate readers, tasers and now chest cameras: where will it end?

I'm for safety but all of these toys this quick?

seenitB4
97787
Points
seenitB4 08/12/13 - 08:21 am
2
1
Lots of toys :)

Yep...it does seem the toys are coming fast & furious....slow it down some ....the life you save could be your own.:)

urright
465
Points
urright 08/12/13 - 09:06 am
1
0
anotherday--

The dash cams only come on when the lights are activated. The probable cause action--like "veering," would not be on the camera. I do beleive your buddies were not telling the entire truth or only heard what they wanted to hear.

specsta
7137
Points
specsta 08/12/13 - 01:36 pm
0
0
Video Battles?

This could get interesting. Citizens have the right to record and photograph police and police activity in public spaces, without interference.

I can foresee a day coming - citizens' video versus police video in a courtroom. And the case might be decided on who had the best angle.

nocnoc
49253
Points
nocnoc 08/12/13 - 04:43 pm
1
0
My vehicles both have dash cams with audio recording

Cost $29.95 720P HD Video & Audio
2 popular Internet deal of the day sites usually carry them once a month.

Purchase a $9.95 16gb SD chip and it records about 8 hours between automatic overwrites.

Both have recorded some really stupid things in the area.

Best recorded fool to date:
A Gordon Hwy jaywalker near Harvest tables.
His head down, looking in take out bag ,ipod ear buds in, walked into traffic without looking up, and stopped and stood there in the fast lane making sure his order was right.

corgimom
38542
Points
corgimom 08/13/13 - 09:12 am
1
0
You don't need to record

You don't need to record stupid stuff, you only have to look with your eyes. It's all around you.

corgimom
38542
Points
corgimom 08/13/13 - 09:13 am
1
0
Young Fred, yes, talking on a

Young Fred, yes, talking on a cell phone is just about the same as driving drunk.

I don't quite know what you're getting at, but ok.

nocnoc
49253
Points
nocnoc 08/13/13 - 06:08 pm
0
0
Au contraire Corgimom I have

Au contraire Corgimom
I have a dream of putting them all together and making a You-Tube clip one day.

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