Senate weighs pros, cons of body cams for law enforcement

Published: Mar. 4, 2015 at 8:20 PM EST|Updated: May. 12, 2016 at 1:21 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A bill up for discussion in the Senate proposes giving body cameras to all 11,000 of the state's law enforcement officers, but some departments are telling lawmakers to wait.

A number of police and sheriff's agencies told senators on Wednesday the bill before them needs more work. The bill's wording requires every law enforcement officer in the state to wear a camera.

"Does that mean undercover officers? Victims advocates?" said Sumter County Sheriff's Office public information officer Braden Bunch. "Folks who quite frankly would be talking to people who don't want to record would have to record these people. We don't think that would be appropriate."

Under the bill all that video recorded by law enforcement would be public record.

"You may be in a person's house, and that video unknowningly captures the fact that person has two big screen TVs and that's published," state Sen. Brad Hutto said.

There is also a question of cost. Each body camera costs on average about a thousand dollars. To equip all 11,000 officers in the state, as the bill instructs, would cost $11 million in taxpayer dollars.

It also costs money to store. Maj. Michael Nunn with the Florence County Sheriff's Office, told senators it would cost his agency $100,000 a year to store all the video recorded.

"We're not talking about megabytes or gigabytes, but tetrabytes of data," Bunch said.

The committee didn't make a decision though, saying they needed more testimony before they could decide.?

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