Durham County Deputies Will Wear Body Cameras PDF Print E-mail
Local Government
By Administrator   
Friday, 18 February 2022 17:43
After years of planning and months of testing, Durham County Sheriff Clarence F. Birkhead is pleased to announce DCSO law enforcement officers are now equipped with body-worn cameras.
 
During the week of January 24, 2022, Sheriff’s Office IT Department began issuing BWC to personnel within DCSO. The long-awaited use of body-worn cameras will allow our deputies to take advantage of this technology to be used for documentation purposes; including interactions with victims, witnesses, and others during law enforcement-public encounters; arrests; and critical incidents.
 
“I am confident these devices will strengthen our accountability and transparency to the public, will aid in the de-escalation of conflicts, and subsequently, will add another tool necessary for the successful investigation of crime in our communities,” Sheriff Birkhead said. “The practice of using body-worn cameras is a step in the right direction to better capture evidence during events we face daily; be it crimes and/or general interaction with local citizens. We hope, and feel confident that over time, the visibility, general practice, and use of BWC will become a valuable addition to enhancing our ability to better serve Durham County.”
 
The project, included in Durham County’s 2020-2029 Capital Improvement Plan, captures both audio and video data. Officers activate BWC during encounters with victims, witnesses, and suspects to provide an accurate and unbiased recording of a deputy’s activities during these interactions.
 
Americans want body cameras.  A Cato Institute survey, in 2016, showed that 89% of Americans supported requiring police officers to wear body cameras. A recent report from the National Institute of Justice shows 49% of Sheriff’s Offices nationwide and 80% of large police departments have a body-worn camera program.
 
By launching our BWC program, DCSO now joins other law enforcement agencies using modern technology to improve transparency while implementing one of the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice. Sheriff Birkhead said, “I was appointed to this task force last year, by Governor Cooper, and I am honored to not only help make recommendations, but to also see the recommendations implemented with the goal of improving public confidence, transparency, and accountability.”
  
Dash Cameras
With the purchase of 102 dash cameras, the Sheriff’s Office also upgraded DCSO vehicles with more effective and efficient technology. “When a deputy activates their blue lights or exceeds 85 miles per hour, both the body-worn camera and the dash camera will automatically turn on and will not stop recording until it is turned off,” said DCSO IT Director Vincent Ritter.
 
Sheriff Birkhead believes the new DCSO Body-Worn Camera Program will improve transparency and accountability. “In a situation where a deputy is responding to an emergency call with blue lights activated, the cameras will already be activated and there should be no gaps in the video recording.” 
 
Phase II, of this project, will be launched later this year with dash cameras in more vehicles and body-worn cameras in the detention facility.
 
 
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