Berrien County Sheriff's Department deputies to start wearing body cameras

NOW: Berrien County Sheriff’s Department deputies to start wearing body cameras

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. – A project years in the making finally becoming a reality. Recently the Berrien County Commissioners approved a contract, which starts the process of purchasing body cameras for deputies.

For nine months the department tested eight body cameras mostly in the jail. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey said they liked that it added another layer of protection. So now, all deputies at the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department will start wearing body cameras over the next few months.

A few clicks for a new perspective.

“You’ll see all the deputies wearing a body camera if you come in contact with them on the road,” said Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey.

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is embracing new technology by purchasing 120 body cameras for its deputies.  

“We’re happy that we’re getting this tool to better serve the public and to record what’s recording while we’re out there taking complaints,” said Bailey.

Sheriff Bailey isn’t the only one happy with the cameras. People who live in the area like it too.

“I think it’s a very good idea,” said Jane Zhu. “I think that will be, you know, keep both sides, have some evidence for both sides.”

“If they have the body cameras, I think it cuts down on questions,” said Mark Mavracic. “That way if someone is doing something they shouldn’t be doing, it’s caught.”

Sheriff Bailey says the video evidence provided by these cameras will help not only his deputies but people who live here as well.

“We have more video to protect the deputy and protect the citizen that everything we’re doing is going to be recorded and admissible in court,” said Bailey.

But the added protection comes at a cost. The five year contract with Axon Enterprise totals at $262,443.00. 

That price tag include the costs for the cameras, licenses, and storage. 

“We know that technology is needed and that it’s very expensive and the county commissioners support spending that money,” said Bailey.

With the funds to pay for this coming from the county’s Capital Improvements budget, taxpayers say even better.  

“That makes it even sweeter,” said Carl Mathews. “It preserves evidence, it protects the deputies and it would protect the citizens.”

Other departments across the country have had concerns over how to handle all of that video. Sheriff Bailey says that shouldn’t be a problem in Berrien County because the Prosecutor’s Office already added someone on staff to comb through and review video.

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