Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $700,000)
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) is committed to promoting civil rights, access to justice, addressing violent crime, providing support to crime victims, and protecting and building trust with the public. The CCSO is requesting $700,000 to purchase body-worn cameras (BWCs) and to establish a new comprehensive body-worn camera policy and implementation program (BWC PIP).
The CCSO provides patrol services to all but three municipalities in the county that have their own police forces. The CCSO serves every citizen of Cumberland County through mandated programs such as Child Support Enforcement, School Resource Officers, etc. Every citizen and visitor of Cumberland County, especially our officers and others involved in our local justice system, will benefit from implementation of a BWC PIP.
Cumberland County boasts an ethnically diverse population of 333,323 residents. Cumberland County consists of nine municipalities, unincorporated areas, and is adjacent to Ft. Bragg, the nation’s largest military base. In 2020, the Cumberland County Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution standing firmly against racial injustice and committing to bring lasting change by promoting a more equitable and inclusive community and workplace. In addition, the county created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee to guide the integration of diversity, equity and inclusion in areas of policy, training, staff recruitment and retention, internal operations and community outreach/engagement.
A comprehensive BWC PIP will benefit the CCSO and community at large in many ways. A BWC PIP will result in increased evidentiary effectiveness by creating additional layers of transparency not currently available. Recordings from BWCs will allow staff to develop a better perspective on officers’ experiences and better handle citizen encounters. BWC footage will provide evidence to determine if officers react professionally and appropriately and use appropriate levels of force during an encounter. Incorporating a BWC PIP into daily field operations will improve criminal justice outcomes, especially officer and citizen safety.
Goals and deliverables include:
Deployment of BWC’s to all deputies
Build a culture of responsibility and accountability in all situations
Improve trust by reducing use of force
Provide more transparency during incidents especially in disadvantaged neighborhoods to address social and racial equity
Establish a continuing, sustainable BWC program, both financially and technologically
Update policy and implement ongoing training for BWC’s
Improve management of digital evidence multimedia (DEM) to ensure identification, retention, accessibility of footage
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