Richland Co. deputies one step closer to getting body cameras

Richland Co. deputies one step closer to getting body cameras

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Body cameras are a tool that both the police and the public feel can be useful.

Following a Richland County Council meeting Tuesday, the Richland County Sheriff's Department is one step closer to getting them.

Among the group of people in attendance ready to weigh in on the tool for law enforcement was Levar Jones, the man who survived being shot by a South Carolina Highway Patrol Officer in 2014. The incident was caught on camera and eventually led to the trooper being fired and criminally charged.

"South Carolina residents have great respect and expectations for their law enforcement ," Jones said, "which brings us to why we're here today – empowering Richland County Sheriff's Department with the tool to provide justice for the officers and the communities they serve."

For the second time now, the County Council has endorsed body cameras for Richland County deputies. The ordinance passed Tuesday night would help fund a five-year contract that would support the purchase of body cameras as well as the employment of two workers to manage them.

Most of the cost tied to starting the program is expected to be met through the county's general fund. The lingering concern, however, is how to keep the cameras running through the years ahead. Council members said they are looking at ways to pay back the cost that's coming out of the general fund in order to get the program started.

"I think it's important that we look at costs associated with anything that we do," said Richland County Council Chairman Torrey Rush, "and I think it's also important as we move forward we continue to evaluate to make sure that we get the best possible price for any items that we purchase."

The ordinance is expected to have its third reading by the county in the weeks ahead. There will also be a public hearing before any final action is taken.

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