CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (WROC) — This week, road patrol deputies, patrol supervisors and administrators with the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department all started wearing body cameras on their chest.
Sheriff Kevin Henderson says this is something long awaited – and a way to build trust, and good relationships with the public. “The primary focus I want folks to understand in my county is, it’s a good way to be transparent on how we do our jobs,” he said.
Henderson says it took about two years to find a body-cam company that was the right fit, and come up with the appropriate funding for the program. “I worked with the board of supervisors for the funding, I was able to secure funding last fall, and my goal was to get everybody trained and go live Jan 1 and we met that goal,” he said.
Deputies wear them every time they go out on a duty.
“When a deputy has an interaction with a member of the community in law enforcement capacity, not if they’re just walking down the street, that camera is to be activated and there will be a video of that interaction,” said Henderson.
If an officer is in a situation where they need to withdraw a weapon, the camera will automatically turn on. The program, run through the company Axon, is five-years, and costs about a million dollars.
“I wanted to make sure with that number, because this is tax based funds, that I use tax payer money wisely,” said Henderson.
Staff received a full training for the cameras, which also included a training for new tasers. “There’s a couple parts to this, through the Axon company is the latest technology in tasers, so it’s a two-phased training program, we had the taser training because they’re new, and then the body cams,” he said.
One of those involved in training was Deputy Kyle Derosa. He says something like this doesn’t change the way things run – it’s just an extra tool.
“It kind of eliminates the ‘he said she said’,” he said. “There’s been instances where people make claims or accusations about what was or wasn’t, now the body cam would clear that up completely,” he said.
The two other police departments in Ontario County, Geneva and Canandaigua City, have already had body-cam programs for several years now. Sheriff Henderson says its been a goal of his to get them for the Sheriff’s Department since he was elected.
The program expires in five years, but don’t expect it to go away. At the end of those five years, Henderson plans on budgeting for a continuation. He wants this to become a mandatory practice in law enforcement.