Deputies, vehicles to be fitted with cutting-edge technology

(BSCO photo)

by Vail Stewart Rumley

Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputies and their vehicles will be outfitted with cutting-edge technology that will record and store video and other data, documenting any law enforcement-public interactions.

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners recently approved a resolution to outfit the sheriff’s office with BodyWorn technology and in-car cameras at a cost of $278,837.03. The contract includes maintenance and replacement, if necessary.

“We’re not dealing with cameras. They’re called cameras, but they’re computers. We’re talking cutting-edge technology that we have to stay in front of. It has to work, and it has to work correctly,” said Chief Deputy Charlie Rose at the commissioners’ regularly scheduled meeting in November.

The sheriff’s office first brought up the need for the technology during budget sessions for the 2019-20 fiscal year, for which the funding was ultimately approved in the 2019-20 county budget.

The county, however, will not be paying the lump sum for the technology up front. Rather, BodyWorn, LLC will charge $59,600 each year for five years, with 0% interest.

“The agreement is it is a purchase, but it looks almost like a lease in that during the term of the period, the vendor will come back in at month 37 and replace every bit of the equipment. They have an agreement with a financial institution that allows us to make yearly payments on that instead of making a lump sum payment,” said Beaufort County Manager Brian Alligood. “It makes sense for us to do that and to essentially finance it at 0 % interest because what it is over those five years, it allows us to take our money that we would be paying up front and invest it and make money off it.”

Rose said the maintenance and replacement if needed part of the contract was a necessity for the sheriff’s office, as what the equipment could have to withstand during the course of a deputy’s day may look a lot different than the public’s definition of “normal wear and tear.”

“Normal use for law enforcement is not normal use for civilians,” Rose said.

“Pretty much the warranty covers anything except willful neglect on our part and an act of God, which would then be covered by our insurance carrier,” said county Chief Finance Officer Anita Radcliffe.

Rose said data from the “cameras” will be stored in the Cloud for at least 90 days or longer, depending on whether charges were brought in any incident recorded.

“Evidentiary data — we will be keeping that data. If attached to a felony, we’ll be keeping it indefinitely,” Rose said.

Commissioners voted 7-0 to approve the resolution and move forward with the BodyWorn technology.

SOURCE: The Washington Daily News