Sheriff’s Office Presents Body Camera Program

Sheriff’s Office Presents Body Camera Program
PhotoCourtesyOfAxonEnterprise Inc

SNOW HILL– The implementation of a body camera program for the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office is expected to cost $2 million over five years.

Sheriff Matt Crisafulli met with the Worcester County Commissioners last week to present information regarding body cameras and his office’s proposed agreement with the vendor Axon.

“My office has researched with various body worn camera vendors and we’ve elected to proceed with Axon, which is also the vendor for all of the allied agencies here in our county,” he said.

Axon representative Stephanie Sapp showed the commissioners a sample camera and outlined how the program would work for Worcester County. She said the estimated $2,024,647 cost over five years would include the cameras as well as the hardware and software needed. Videos will be accessible via a website that can be accessed by law enforcement agencies as well as the prosecutor’s office.

When asked about how the videos would be uploaded, Sapp said officers would place their body cameras in a dock upon returning to the office.

ocean city live webcams

“Once the camera is docked it’s going to automatically take care of offloading that evidence for the day to,” she said, adding that charging and updates would also occur while the camera was docked.

Sgt. Chris Larmore said that because some officers didn’t typically report to the sheriff’s office when their shift was over, docking stations would be set up at police departments in Pocomoke and Berlin.

Commissioner Chip Bertino asked if there was any chance videos could be accessed by anyone outside of law enforcement. Sapp said encryption would prevent that and that the original copy of a video would always be saved.

Larmore pointed out the sheriff’s office had used in-car cameras for several years successfully.

“My in-car camera has never gotten me in trouble, it’s only gotten me out of trouble,” he said. “People have made complaints about me as most police officers get complaints. The camera has always saved me from the complaint.”

With the Axon system, officers that use their cars regularly will have their vehicles outfitted with cameras that will be linked to their body camera.

“When the lights go on the camera will come on,” Larmore said.

Bertino expressed concerns about the potential for hacking.

“Will your company indemnify us if in fact you are hacked and evidence is destroyed or tampered with?” he said.

Axon’s Sam DeBurra stressed that the sheriff’s office would always have the original copy of video.

“That is foolproof, tamperproof,” he said.

When Bertino said that didn’t really answer his question, DeBurra said Axon would provide the county with its legal documentation.

As far as a potential timeline, DeBurra said once the contract was signed, body cameras would be available by the end of March. In-car cameras, however, won’t be available for nine to 12 months.

Larmore noted that the county’s quote from Axon expired July 30, 2022. When asked about pricing after that point, DeBurra said the company’s standard inflation was 5% to 10%.

“Every year we reassess pricing,” he said.

While Worcester County and Ocean City law enforcement officials have been talking about implementing body cameras for some time, the state mandate doesn’t require agencies to have them in place until 2025. In addition to the camera program costs, Worcester County State’s Attorney Kris Heiser in recent months has shared with officials the changes—more staff and more space—that her office will need to deal with the video that will soon be a part of every case.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.