All road deputies and school resource officers with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department are now equipped with Pro-Vision body cameras the sheriff’s office purchased earlier this year.
The agency was able to purchase 50 cameras with a total price tag of $53,000 allocated by the Franklin County Board of Supervisors, according to Cpt. Phillip Young with the sheriff’s office.
The body cameras are being worn by all 32 road deputies, two school resource officers — one at Franklin County High School and one at Benjamin Franklin Middle School — and the medical officer in the Franklin County jail. The cameras will also be used for civil processes and special events, Young said.
“The body cameras just add to the professionalism and the accountability they were already striving to achieve through accreditation that we started several years ago,” he said. “This just adds to that process.”
The cameras were put into use in early May and have to be manually turned on by the deputy whenever they come in contact with the public, whether that be responding to a call, a traffic stop or participating in a criminal investigation, according to Maj. Mike Bowman with the sheriff’s office.
“Right now they’ve been very helpful,” Bowman said. “What this is is to help the public and to help our deputies make sure that what they’re doing is protecting our citizens, and to monitor that.”
He added that having the body cameras is a sure way of knowing that deputies are following policy while on duty.
For example, the sheriff’s office recently received a complaint about a deputy, Bowman said, and the department was able to go back and look at the camera footage to see if the deputy was following the correct practices and procedures.
There are 77 sworn deputies with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department. Four more will soon be hired.
To equip every sworn deputy with a body camera, Bowman said the office is always looking into grant funding to purchase more cameras.
“Tomorrow would be great,” he said when asked when he would like to see all deputies wearing body cameras, but added that finding available funding has become more difficult in recent years.
“We’re justifying our job and making sure everything is properly documented in our everyday duties,” he said of having the cameras. “It’s given confidence to the community and our deputies that they have something to fall back on and look at to see that everything is done properly.