Newberry Co. sheriff concerned about cost of body cameras in department

Published: Apr. 21, 2015 at 10:29 PM EDT|Updated: May. 1, 2015 at 10:38 PM EDT
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NEWBERRY COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Bills requiring cops to wear body cameras are moving forward, receiving unanimous approval from House and Senate committees Tuesday.

While many support the bill, Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said it's been rushed.

Foster said he isn't opposed to equipping his department with body cameras, but the legislation overlooks funding.

A similar law was passed mandating dash cameras, and Foster said his department is still waiting on money to equip its cruisers.

"The thing is, the state's not provided it is as they promised to do," Foster said. 

Now he's asking whether he'll actually get funding if body worn cameras are required too. 

"There's a lot of things involving body cameras that need to be ironed out," Foster said.

For Foster, it boils down to three things: Privacy, storage and cost.

Like others, Foster's concerned that calls, like welfare checks, inside private homes will now be available for all to see, but he said his biggest headache is storing all of the video captured during each deputy's shift.

"How long do you save those videos? And it's certainly a high cost for that," Foster said. 

The Newberry County Sheriff's Department just spent $52,000 for this server to store emails, and Foster said that file size is just a drop in the bucket compared to video.

State senators have said grant money will be available. But Foster worries that won't happen, because he's still waiting on his new dash cameras to arrive.

Newberry County did receive old highway patrol dash board cameras, but Foster says they require hard to find VHS tapes and they're too much of a hassle to use.

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