Boyle County deputies soon to have body cameras

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BOYLE COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Boyle County Sheriff’s deputies soon will have body cameras to record incidents and interaction with the community.

The Continuous-Operation Body-Worn Cameras will be funded with federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act — “CARES Act” — funds and a public-private partnership.

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Boyle County Fiscal Court granted Sheriff Derek Robbins’ request Tuesday to enter in to a contract with Watch Guard, a nationwide provider of integrated, police body and vehicle cameras.

The camera system will provide up to 12 hours of continuous HD recording and are Wi-Fi and GPS-enabled.

Body cameras allow officers to capture high-definition video evidence and seamlessly upload the footage wirelessly onto a remote, storage server, which will retain the evidence in perpetuity.

“Lack of body-worn camera videos has been a concern in our community in recent months. We listened to public feedback and actively began searching for the resources to fund the need,” Judge Executive Howard Hunt III said.

“We used the CARES allocation as a reimbursement for salaries paid by the Sheriff’s office. By funding salaries, we freed up resources in our budget and matched it with contributions approved by the Fiscal Court. I would be remiss not to thank Farmers National Bank for creating a community fund that will also play an instrumental role in providing these cameras,” Robbins added.

The project will cost $232,173.00 and includes 17 body and vehicle camera systems along with the necessary hardware, two servers to store footage, one remotely, and Evidence Library management software.

More than 80 percent of court cases involve video evidence. Evidence Library is a state-of-the-art management program that seamlessly integrates video and audio footage and provides an accurate accounting of any situation.

“I would like to thank the court in partnering with the Sheriffs office to purchase these cameras. I hope that this will create more public trust and transparency for our office, while providing protection for both Deputies and citizens. Judge Executive Hunt, Fiscal Court and the Boyle County Sheriff’s office are dedicated to making Boyle County a safer place,” the sheriff said.

Boyle County joins many other sheriff departments working to add another level of transparency to their departments after recent actions have been called into question in states like Minnesota and Missouri.

State lawmakers also are likely to consider implementing a camera system for the Kentucky State Police. Gov. Andy Beshear has said those should be a priority for the state.

As of 2016, only 50% of departments in the United States had body cameras with a third saying cameras are an “urgent need and priority” within the next 12 months. The Boyle County Sheriff Department’s camera system should be in place by spring 2021.

“The manner to which the footage and data is transferred seamlessly to the remote servers, untouched by human hands gave me the utmost confidence that this system was what we needed. I like that, should we have an incident, no human hands can access or alter that footage. When Sheriff Robbins shared the enthusiasm his department has for body worn cameras, we were left with the utmost confidence that using a portion of the CARES reimbursement was the right use of funds,” concluded Hunt.