Body cameras issued
30 cameras deployed to sheriff’s deputies to increase accountability
NORRISTOWN >> In an effort to maintain and increase accountability and assist prosecutors with crime investigations, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office is now outfitting deputies with body cameras.
Montgomery County Sheriff Sean Kilkenny recently announced the deployment of 30 body cams that will be used mainly in the warrants and civil divisions but also in serving and enforcing Protection From Abuse orders and during high-risk transports.
The cameras have already been assigned to deputies at
the entrance to the county courthouse.
The devices, manufactured by law enforcement technology company Axon, can take about 70 hours of footage which will be maintained in the office’s records for about 2 years per county policy, Kilkenny said.
They also feature a preevent buffer mode that can capture up to two minutes of inaudible video before the ‘record’ button is pressed.
Each camera costs $240 and the department invested $12,000 for a backend server.
The sheriff’s office opted to go with Axon Body 2 cameras — which are mounted to an officer’s uniform with magnet-bearing brackets — after evaluating body cam offerings from several companies and determining that Axon provided “by far the best technology” to suit the department’s needs, explained Chief Deputy Adam Berry.
According to Corporal Harry Burke, each deputy who will be issued a camera was trained in policy, procedure and operation of the body cams over the course of a trial period that began in April.
Burke said officers will use the cameras when pulling up to investigation scenes, calling into county radio, or any time a deputy feels that it would be beneficial to record and document a particular incident
“On the back end, once the information is uploaded, deputies can assign an evidence tag and add documentation to the video so it can be used in courtroom testimony or further investigations,” Burke said.
By state law, the cameras themselves can’t currently be used in courtrooms, but the footage they capture in the field can, and Burke said video evidence from one of the body cams has already helped prosecute a PFA violator.
“The accountability is on the evidence,” noted Kilkenny, adding that An IP address is recorded each time a video is viewed, and footage could be released to the public in accordance with “right to know” request procedures.
“We are the forerunner of sheriff’s offices in deploying body cams but many law enforcement agencies throughout the county and the nation are doing so to increase accountability,” he said.
“We want to increase transparency in the public knowing what our officers are doing and helping our DA and prosecutors solve crimes in Montgomery County.”
This Axon Body 2 camera is worn by Cpl. Harry Burke of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department.