Clark County Sheriff begins trial of body cams

Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 4:48 PM PDT
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RIDGEFIELD Wash. (KPTV) - The Clark County Sheriff’s Office is testing out some new equipment. Deputies are in a trial period of their Body Worn Camera Program with hopes to install cameras in their patrol vehicles and having officers wear them.

Last year, voters passed the Public Safety Tax which allowed CCSO to purchase body-worn cameras. They plan to have 145 body cameras and install equipment in 85 patrol vehicles.

“These cameras are another window into what occurred. It’s a slice of the pie, it’s just like what the involve people said, what the deputy decides, what their record reflects,” says Comdr. Todd Barsness.

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Though the price tag for the equipment isn’t known just yet, officials say they are asking for enough to create the backbone to make this viable. There is hardware, software costs and with an increase in workload, CCSO will have to hire more staff.

The Axon 4 body camera will have a GPS locator, 2-way radio, and even provide live video for commanders to oversee in real-time. The cameras will have built-in systems to activate, such as turning on the overhead lights, using a sensor when a firearm is removed using Bluetooth.

Dep. Christopher Fisk has worn the body camera during its trial and says it’s easy to use. One of the benefits is finding stolen vehicles. The patrol camera grabs license plates in real time, sends it to their software on their patrol laptop and alerts them of stolen vehicles.

In nearly a month’s time of the trial, Dep. Fisk has recovered three stolen cars and two stolen plates. Two of the stolen cars were returned to the rightful owners.

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“That’s super nice to have it. Kind of just changes the game to where we can find all those stolen [cars] right away without having to enter them,” says Dep. Fisk. “We’re able to give them their car back to where they can now continue to go to work or provide for their kids.”

CCSO says they hope to roll out the body-worn cameras for deputies by the end of the year, and for patrol cars in early 2024.