Sheriff looks for new cameras

Body, car cameras need to be replaced

BROOKINGS – The Brookings County Sheriff’s Office will buy new cameras for their cruisers and new body cameras, completely replacing older ones they currently have.

Brookings County Sheriff Marty Stanwick said it could take about $50,000 to buy eight camera systems that would better link the cameras in officers’ cars with the ones they wear on themselves.

Work as a law enforcement officer can be tough on equipment, and according to county IT specialist Shawn Plowman, “I’ve replaced every camera in every vehicle at least once due to hardware failure, software failures, something going wrong with them. It’s been an ongoing issue.”

Both the in-car cameras and the body cameras are 5 years old, and the warranties on both types have expired.

The issues they have with the cameras are serious, even if they have found some work-around solutions to hold the department over until replacements are purchased. Some of the in-car cameras aren’t automatically turned on when they’re supposed to, which is whenever the red lights come on. If the officer catches it, he can manually turn the camera on.

The GPS systems in those cameras are also hit and miss these days. The GPS feature helps officers mark where different things happened. That way, if in the course of a pursuit something is thrown from the pursued vehicle, officers can go back and try to find it using the location given from the GPS’s log.

For the body cameras, the battery packs are wearing out and don’t hold their charges well.

Another ongoing issue faced with the existing setup is the storage and transfer of videos, which is apparently a tricky matter.

It requires two different ways to store data, depending on which camera is used. As he looks for new cameras, Stanwick hopes to purchase a system that’s standardized so they can use the same storage method for all footage, regardless if it came from a car camera or a body camera. That would help streamline the process.

“That is going to save us on storing the evidence so that we don’t have to have two separate ways to store evidence,” Stanwick said.

Brookings County Commissioner Lee Ann Pierce added that such a change could also benefit the court system when it relies on such videos.

“We don’t have a system right now that flows throughout our whole system smoothly because everybody has a different piece of the computer stuff – your office, the state’s attorney’s office and the defense attorney’s office. State’s attorney’s office is still mailing the videos out to people, and I’d like us when we start looking at buying a new program that we get a new program where those can be sent by email or another digital means as opposed to what we’re doing so that we’re a little more efficient than that.”

Since the cameras are all out of warranty, every time something needs to be fixed or replaced, it costs the sheriff’s office money.

Previously, all cameras bought by the department were paid for through grant money, Stanwick said. The new cameras will be paid for in his department’s 2018-2019 budget.

Contact Eric Sandbulte at [email protected]

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