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KCSO deputies now equipped with body cams

Posted: July 7, 2015 6:27 p.m.
Updated: July 8, 2015 1:00 a.m.
Provided by the KCSO/

Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews wears his body cam, clipped to his collar above his “Sheriff” pin. All uniformed Kershaw County patrol deputies are now wearing body cams, paid for in part with savings from decreased gasoline prices.

All Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) uniformed deputies who work in an enforcement capacity are now wearing Taser Axon body cameras. The last group of uniformed patrol officers attended their final training session July 2 and equipped with the new cameras, according to a statement released by Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews.

The S.C. General Assembly recently passed legislation requiring body cameras for law enforcement, but the deployment of those cameras will not take place until funding is provided by the state. Matthews, however, began exploring the use of this technology more than three years ago and began testing and evaluating different brands.

Matthews said the KCSO chose the Taser Axon body camera, with the total cost of cameras and one year data storage at about $50,000. Due in part to a reduction in gasoline prices, the KCSO was able to fund the purchase of these cameras without asking for a budget increase from Kershaw County Council. Data storage costs for the 45 cameras will cost an estimated $11,000 annually.

Matthews said the 40 cameras have been deployed with few, if any, glitches. The main problem, he said, has been for deputies to remember to turn them on -- and back off when their public contact has concluded.

“So far there has been very little resistance on the part of the deputies to use these cameras. It helped that, during the first week of body cam use, an irate citizen’s complaints were proven false and she decided not to file a complaint when she was told there was body cam footage of the incident,” Matthews said. “She basically lied about a deputy’s actions during an incident and we challenged her on her account of the events. Any skepticism on the part of our officers about these cameras vanished when they learned of this situation.”

According to Matthews, statistics from across the nation have shown the use of body cameras generally makes everyone -- officers and citizens alike -- act more reasonably. In a vast majority of cases, officers are exonerated by video footage taken by their body or dash cameras when there is a complaint of some type of misconduct. Body cameras can also record details of a scene or situation the deputy might not see as it occurs, but can be observed after review of the video.

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