OC Sheriff Don Barnes in a recent press conference announced Orange County Sheriff’s deputies could begin wearing body cameras in August to improve transparency and the safety of the community and sheriff’s deputies.
Barnes, who has focused heavily on increasing public safety, said deputies are looking forward to the program but that it has taken years to implement as the department works out how to operate the devices and manage the size of the video files, bandwidth, and storage.
“The most important part about this is we have almost 2,000 deputy sheriffs in the department,” he said, “and many of those who are in field operations and other units that interact with the public will be going to a body-worn camera program as well.”
The Orange County Board of Supervisors will consider whether to approve the 5-year $12.7 million program. Some of the funding will also come from the 13 cities the Sheriff’s Department contracts with across the county.
Nationwide, law enforcement agencies are increasing the use of body-worn cameras to better monitor officers in the field with hopes that the cameras will reduce misconduct and improve fairness in policing.
According to a recent study by the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Council on Criminal Justice’s Task Force on Policing, body-worn cameras are beneficial and cost-effective. The study found that the key benefit of body-worn cameras is a reduction in police force and that among the departments studied, complaints against police dropped by 17%, and the use of force during fatal and non-fatal encounters fell nearly 10%.