OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) Body cameras are used by some Tri-State law enforcement agencies, but other departments looking to add them say there are major hurdles.
The Daviess County Sheriff’s Office says costs are keeping them from getting cameras for deputies.
“We support the body cam initiative and think they play a huge role,” said Daviess Co. Sheriff Barry Smith. He says they’ve looked at getting body cameras for a year-and-a-half. Grants are available to pay for them, but they don’t cover annual maintenance and storage costs, which could cost his department $80,000 to $90,000 a year.
“About 88% of our budget is personnel cost. 12% of our budget is counting for replacement of cars, gasoline, other costs to operate the office. So there is not a huge pot of money out there,” he explained.
It happens as the sheriff’s office works to add more deputies. Sheriff Smith says they’ll need to add more workers to handle requests involving body cam footage.
“Whether it’d be a county attorney’s office request, commonwealth attorney’s office request, it would be, nearly, a full-time person that would be assigned to respond to a request to download the data that’s needed and retract any person information,” he said.
Other law enforcement agencies have had to factor in costs when either purchasing or upgrading body cams. Among those is the Madisonville Police Department, who bought theirs several years ago, and who upgraded a few years after that.
The department signed a half million dollar contract with a new body cam and storage provider last year, which includes unlimited storage. Major Jason McKnight says they were paying thousands more in adding storage with their old provider.
“When they needed those for evidence, they were needing those stored on our server, so we would have to spend up to $20,000 in upgrades just to keep the memory going,” he explained.
Sheriff smith says his department is still looking for ways to cover costs of all aspects of body cameras, storage and maintenance.
(This story was originally published on April 4, 2022)