The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office has rolled out a new body and in-car camera system to Patrol Deputies and School Resource Officers. As the threat against law enforcement continues to increase, body and in-car cameras have become an essential piece of equipment for every deputy. With the rise in school shootings and use of force interactions, law enforcement agencies have been under immense pressure to provide body cameras to their officers to record their interactions with the public. Agencies who have implemented cameras have experienced a reduction in use of force incidents and complaints. The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office implemented the use of body worn cameras and policy regarding their use in 2015 after Sheriff Coleman took office. Since implementing the use of cameras, the Sheriff's Office has had a reduction of complaints and has gained valuable footage to properly review use of force incidents as well as other encounters with the public.
The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office has since become the first North Carolina Law Enforcement Agency to engage in a contract (September 2019) with BodyWorn by Utility for their body/car camera solution. The Sheriff's Office recently completed the installation and training of the new system and implemented its use. The body cameras from BodyWorn integrate with the in-car cameras and share software platforms.
BodyWorn's primary goal is to "get cops back to being cops"
. This camera system takes the thought out of it. The camera allows the Sheriff's Office to implement policy-based recording. For example, the in-car and body camera system will link up to the Sheriff's Office Computer Aided Dispatch system and send the GPS location information of the officer and vehicle to the communications center. This will also allow for a link to be created when a deputy is dispatched to a call and arrives on scene so that his/her cameras will automatically activate based off their cameras GPS and policy settings.
The BodyWorn product comes with several other valuable features. The gunshot detection feature allows the sound of a gunshot to activate the camera. The state-of-the-art video play back software that BodyWorn offers rises far above any solution that we have had in the past. With the new playback software offered by BodyWorn the cameras automatically upload to a CJIS compliant cloud server hosted by BodyWorn. The fact that the cloud is CJIS compliant allows the Sheriff's Office to store all video footage as part of evidentiary storage. An external waypoint allows video footage to be uploaded automatically without the deputy having to do anything other than pull into the parking lot. The play back software also has an integrated redaction component that will allow the Sheriff's Office to blur faces for a part of a video as needed in the event of public release.
The body cameras offer deputies with a unique new form of communication. The cameras allow for messages to be sent out from communications to all deputes in the event of important information needing to be communicated. For example, when a BOLO (be on the lookout) is
given out over the radio for a wanted person it can also be sent out through the body cameras which will allow them to receive an image as well.
Previously, only deputies on the patrol division were issued body cameras. With the addition of School Resource Officers, the majority of law enforcement interaction is now able to be documented with audio and video recordings. The cameras issued to the SROs are connected to each school's wireless internet, thus, allowing live streaming in the event of a major event such as an active shooter. The live streaming feature is only enabled when the camera is actively recording and connected to the school's WiFi. The streaming will allow communications/command staff to pull up the footage and send a live image of the suspect to all the deputies working at the time.
This camera system has several safety features that are incorporated within the camera. One of the most important life saving features is the officer down module. BodyWorn uses the gyroscope within the body camera to determine whether the officer is down. In the event of an officer down scenario the body camera will activate. Once activated it will send a notification to communications and all deputies currently on duty at the time with the unit number and GPS location. This was first used to save an officer's life at another agency when an officer went down during a foot chase that caused the officer to have a heart attack. Due to this feature emergency services were immediately dispatched to his location that would later save his life.
The 24/7 support that we are receiving along with the training, uniforms, integration, and cloud storage goes unmatched. BodyWorn cameras continue to prove their value throughout the law enforcement community on a daily basis. Sheriff Coleman has made it a priority to ensure officer safety above all else.
- Joseph S. Knox
- Systems Administrator
- Beaufort County Sheriff's Office
- 210 N. Market Street
- Washington, NC 27889
- Cell: (252) 945-1000
- Office: (252) 946-7111 Ext. 2018