Town may add cameras

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A topic at the Feb. 10 Tyrone Town Council retreat led to a discussion that will have Police Chief Brandon Perkins explore the idea of having officers wear on-body cameras. Perkins said he could report back to council with findings in the coming months.

Mayor Eric Dial after the meeting said that, conceptually, the council supports the idea of having officers wear body cameras.

Dial said the council asked Perkins to continue his research on the issue and return with a proposal which will include a variety of components such as a policy on the use of the cameras, the finances involved in acquiring the cameras and data storage and retrieval costs.

“We support this from a conceptual standpoint. We want to make sure we do it deliberately and make a wise decision,” said Dial.

Perkins at the retreat said the department purchased and tested a body camera several years ago because “we saw how such technology could be helpful in protecting offices as well as in collecting evidence. However, (at that time) we found the device to be less than user-friendly and the video quality was terrible.”

Changes in technology have resulted in significant improvement in on-body cameras. Other local law enforcement agencies, such as the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office and the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, are either using the camera systems or in the process of evaluating them.

Perkins said the department is in the early stages of field-testing various models, adding that their are a lot of questions to be answered.

Perkins in the presentation to the council noted a variety of issues that must be resolved. A sampling of those include the development and adoption of a policy that addresses all the issues involved in using the camera systems, the length of time the data would be stored, the location of the storage and the cost of both the camera systems and data storage.

As with other law enforcement agencies, the bulk of the cost is in data storage.

Perkins is expected to return to the council with an evaluation and recommendation in the coming months.