Budgeting For Video Cameras

Video cameras law enforcement officers and deputies can wear on their bodies or mount on cruiser dashboards have become critical pieces of equipment. Yet, all too often, purchasing them seems to rely on the generosity of the private sector.

Just last week, the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office accepted a $26,815 donation from Williams Energy. The money will be used to buy 35 body cameras, one for every member of the department.

Sheriff Kevin Cecil noted his office has used body cameras for about five years. They are “a valuable tool, because it takes away any misconceptions or guesswork,” Cecil said, adding that “any questions or issues we’ve had have been resolved as a result of the body cameras.”

They are in the news frequently, most often when questions about the conduct of law enforcement personnel arise. They can be important investigative tools, too.

Like most equipment, video cameras do not last forever. Whether worn by officers and deputies or mounted in cruisers, they take something of a beating. “What we previously had outlived its lifespan. We’ve had multiple unrepairable issues,” Cecil said.

Good for Williams Energy and other local companies that step in frequently to assist law enforcement agencies.

But local police and sheriff’s departments should not have to rely on the private sector to ensure body cameras are supplied and replaced. Like other equipment, such as cruisers themselves, costs ought to be built into local government budgets.

Local government officials don’t like to hear such suggestions, and that is understandable. Many already have a tough time keeping budgets in balance without tax increases.

But money for video cameras is important — both for law enforcement personnel and the public. Funds for the cameras should be built into budgets as a basic line item.

COMMENTS