Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $616,000)
The Portage County Sheriff's Office proposes to use any grant funding to replace the current in-car squad camera systems and equip Deputies and Corrections Officers with body-worn cameras (BWC's).
The Sheriff's Office currently uses an in-car camera system provided by the vendor Digital Ally. Many of the units have been in service for almost 10 years. Several years ago Deputies began having issues with many of the components. In 2018, the Sheriff’s Office was fortunate enough to acquire several used units from the Wisconsin State Patrol when they upgraded their system. This enabled the Sheriff's Office to keep their system operational by providing them with a limited supply of spare parts/components. The existing in-car camera system is well beyond its normal expected service life and isn’t compatible with BWC systems.
Many law enforcement agencies have implemented BWCs in recent years. They can be useful tools for documenting incidents, which is a large part of a law enforcement officer’s duties. The footage that can be captured with BWCs is unique in that it isn’t limited to what happens directly in front of the squad, or in the rear seat/prisoner compartment. BWCs have been proven to help protect Deputies, and their employers, from false allegations of misconduct. They can also provide compelling evidence aiding in the prosecution of cases and reducing paid court time.
Corrections field utilizes the body worn cameras for same reason as law enforcement. It can capture events that take place in the jail and in use of force incidents. The Portage County Sheriff's Office has not utilized BWC's in the past.