Boone County Sheriff's Office to start testing body cameras

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COLUMBIA - The Boone County Sheriff's Department is working out the details to launch a pilot program for body cameras in September.

Maj. Tom Reddin said the department received eight free cameras from L-3 Communications because the department uses L-3's dash cams in its patrol cars.

He said officials within the department are working on appropriate policies for the body cams.

"This summer, we have been working on drafting a policy to utilize these devices," Reddin said.

He said the department is motivated to start a pilot program because the body cam technology has become more relevant in law enforcement.

"It's a trend in law enforcement, it's a national trend in law enforcement, and it wouldn't surprise any of us if that just becomes the norm in law enforcement as the future unfolds," Reddin said. "We've had dash cam cameras in our patrol cars for fifteen or more years and wanted to see the feasibility of introducing body cameras."

Reddin said he would like to see the pilot program launched in September but said it could take longer.

"We want to make sure that we're doing it right," Reddin said. "We have to make sure that we understand the devices technically. We need to make sure that we understand where on a uniform we can put these to where they are going to stay there during a foot chase, during a physical altercation."

The body cameras would not only be used on deputies. Reddin said the department would like to extend the pilot program to the correctional facility and needs to see how the cameras would be deployed in the jail.

Reddin said the eight current cameras are distributed so four can used by patrolling deputies and four by corrections officers.

According to a news release, the Columbia Police Department spent $110,000 on body cameras in July 2014. Reddin said the sheriff's department will not need to buy as many as CPD, but will determine numbers after the pilot program is complete.

"We're going to find out the feasibility of using them to begin with, period, before we start, and hope to have the answer by the end of the year," Reddin said. "Then we're going to start talking about numbers of cameras that we would buy and what the cost is going to be."

Reddin said the department hopes to have its questions about the technology answered by the end of the year.

"If we are going to proceed with body cameras,  what make and manufacturer are they going to be," Reddin said. "Are we going to continue testing with some other makes and manufacturers?"