Work continues on a body camera policy for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Jeff Richwine told the county commissioners last week that he’s begun getting requests for body camera footage, but there are laws that limit what the department may release. “It’s a kind of a nightmare,” he said. “We’re working on getting the software that we can redact all the stuff. [County Attorney] Kevin [Tankersley] read the law, I read the law, and you’re head still kind of spins.”
Tankersley explained that while there have long been laws on access to public and investigatory records, three new sections of law were passed about a year and a half ago. “It’s very complicated, and it puts a great deal of responsibility on the department,” Tankersley said. “When they’re shooting a body cam, first of all, there’s only certain people that can get that video. You have to have some sort of connection to it: it depicts you or depicts a close relative. If it contains something that’s confidential or it contains something, for example, nudity, you have to have the ability to pixelate that, which we don’t have.” Tankersley said the Sheriff’s Department also has to have the ability to store the video for at least 270 days or sometimes longer.
Those concerns will be addressed by a new contract between the county and Motorola. It includes new body cameras, portable radios, cloud data storage, and video editing software.
But Richwine said that while that will help going forward, it doesn’t address the video that his department already has. “That takes a whole different software, and we’re doing a free trial now with one, and we’ll just see how that works,” he said. “But so far, the people have been real good. I think Kevin’s written some nice letters and I think, talking to me, they realize that it’s not that we don’t want to give it to them, there’s just certain things that we’ve got to get in place before we can release it.”
Meanwhile, he said Tankersley is working on an updated body camera policy.