Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department Looking to Buy New Body Cameras

The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department may be stepping up its use of body cameras and upgrading its technology in the process. Sheriff Jeff Richwine told the county commissioners Monday that up until now, he’s left it up to his deputies to decide when to turn on their cameras, rather than requiring their use at all times.

“Once you write the policy and all that, they don’t have that choice,” Richwine explained. “They’re videotaping everything they do. And if that’s in there talking in your house at midnight because you and your wife had a loud argument that somebody called in on, nobody gets arrested because it wasn’t physical, it’s just a verbal thing that I’m sure happens in every marriage once in a while, it winds up on YouTube. I’m not talking about any kind of physical thing. You know, everybody gets loud in these marriages.”

But now, he feels state law has caught up to the technology, to the point where it will keep residents’ domestic life from becoming public record. “I think with this law and some of the other things that we have, that we’d be able to do a good job and keep things that are not public information that way and be able to edit people out of these,” Richwine said. “In the law, there’s certain things that have to be edited – a death or serious bodily injury, all that has to be edited out.”

The problem is that the county’s technology has to be upgraded. Richwine said that even with the limited use of body cameras currently taking place, the footage has likely quadrupled the sheriff’s department’s data. On top of that, county officials don’t have a good way to edit the videos, as required.

To solve the problem, Richwine said he’s gotten a proposal from Motorola. “This is a whole package,” he told the commissioners. “It’s a phone system. It’s 12 new portables. It’s the cameras. It’s the storage. It might even be more portables than that. It could be as many as 20. I don’t know. Maybe it’s 12 cameras and 20 portables.”

Richwine said at least a portion of the cost could be paid in yearly installments out of the 911 Fund. “The only thing that we’re checking on right now is I don’t know if 911 Funds will pay for the storage because what we’re going to do is we’re going to lease the storage. It’s just kind of part of the package.”

None of the commissioners voiced any concern with Richwine’s plan. As a next step, the sheriff will review the funding arrangements with Auditor Laura Wheeler, while County Attorney Kevin Tankersley will take a look at the proposed contract with Motorola.