AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — Serving and protecting the people of Aiken is expected to get more technologically advanced with new body cameras.
The new technology comes on the heels of City Council approving the use of more than $70 thousand for the purchase of body cameras and other pieces of equipment.
"The cameras we originally bought, we were reimbursed though the state for those cameras and we were holding on that money, sitting on it, until we needed new cameras," Captain Martin Sawyer told NewsChannel 6's Aiken County Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk.
Each officer is expected to be outfitted with one. "The cameras we have now are signed out by officers everyday. They come in they sign a camera out and several times during the shift they may have to change them out because the batteries don't last a whole shift. Probably the best thing is when we get our new one's every officer will have their own camera to be assigned to them so they won't have to share a camera," Captain Sawyer stated.
Sawyer has seen a lot, including old outdated cameras, during his time at the Department. He says the spending comes at a time when body cameras are wearing out and new technology is coming in.
"One is the battery life. It will last our whole shift," Captain Sawyer added. "The durability, if it falls off during a fight or during a chase, they don't bust or crack and it would be the same system as in our car cameras."
The Department will use Digital Ally as the provider. "It's the same manufacturer as our car cameras. So this will all go into one database so we don't have to have two different databases to find video," Captain Sawyer added. Right now, Sawyer says, a supervisor spend a high majority of their time downloading video from two different systems for investigations.
The company is used by department in all 50 states and more than 90 foreign countries, according to its website.
The body camera is a great tool for both the general public and public safety officials. "One it captures a lot of evidence on every case we have. The second thing is that it protects the public and it protects our public safety officers. If there's a complaint made, by a member of the public, we can go back and watch the video and say yes this officer did what these people say they did. So that protects the citizen it shows that we are watching our officers making sure they are doing their jobs. But if a complaint is made against an officer, and an officer says it's not true, we can watch the video and clear the officers. It's worked both ways for us," Captain Sawyer said.
When asked if he suspects if the department will need to get updated cameras in the future due to changing technology, Captain Sawyer said "Technology is always changing so we expect in several years to get new cameras. Now there may be upgrades that come with these cameras throughout the year but at some point they are just going to be out of service and we will have to buy new cameras."
"We want to keep up with the times and sometimes money holds us back, " Captain Sawyer added.
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