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Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Launches Body Camera Test Program
Select Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Deputies will begin testing body cameras
For Release: September 2, 2021
Courtney O’Keefe, Sheriff’s Office Director of Communications, Courtney.O’Keefe@snoco.org, 425-249-6263
Kent Patton, Executive Office Director of Communications, Kent.Patton@snoco.org. 425-388-3883
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash., September 2, 2021 – Today, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office announced the start of a test program to outfit selected Sheriff’s Office deputies with body worn cameras. Body worn cameras are used to improve transparency and accountability for both law enforcement and the community at large.
In the initial test program, 12 body worn cameras will be deployed to Sheriff’s Office deputies. The initial test program consists of three different body camera vendors that will each supply four test cameras to the Sheriff’s Office. The cameras will each be tested for a six-week period and will be worn by deputies in the Sheriff’s Office Violent Offender Task Force, Patrol division and Motors unit.
“I am a strong supporter and advocate for body worn cameras for our deputies,” said Sheriff Adam Fortney. “Body cams will provide additional transparency, help build community trust, and will also provide an extra layer of protection for the men and women who are working patrol and serving our community each day. Our office has prioritized funding body cameras for every deputy sheriff as a top request in our 2022 budget package and we hope to have them for all of our deputies next year.”
“Body cameras are good for our law enforcement officers and good for our community,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “While not always perfect records of often chaotic events, cameras provide more objective documentation of encounters between law enforcement officers and members of the public. As we have seen nationwide, body worn camera footage is essential for transparency and accountability. We know law enforcement cannot succeed at keeping the peace if our community doesn’t have faith in their actions. Cameras will help build and maintain trust, ensuring there are recordings when encounters are disputed. This is an important step to better serving everyone in our community.”
“The safety of our community has always been the County’s top priority, and the use of body cameras will help provide crucial information to ensure accountability when interactions are in dispute,” said Snohomish County Council Chair Stephanie Wright. “This is an important step forward in maintaining trust within our entire community, and I am in full support of providing body cameras for Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Deputies.”
“The community must have confidence in our law enforcement officers if they are going to keep the peace,” said Snohomish County Council Vice Chair Megan Dunn. “This effort for testing body cameras responds to community requests for accountability from our law enforcement and criminal justice system, and I’m confident the County can develop a more meaningful and transparent system.”
“Our hard-working deputies will be better able to serve Snohomish County with the introduction of body worn cameras,” said Snohomish County Councilmember Nate Nehring. “Many times, disputes can be resolved by a factual record of an interaction. While the cost for the program is significant, it may prevent some lawsuits and otherwise keep our law enforcement officers focused on the job at hand: keeping our communities safe.”
“The safety of our residents is my number one priority, and this program will help the Sheriff’s Office keep our county safe,” said Snohomish County Councilmember Sam Low. “Body worn cameras have been shown to help both law enforcement and our community. I will continue to work on behalf of proposals to keep our first responders focused on their important work.”
“We want to support our Deputies and the members of the public who interact with them, and body cameras are an excellent way to lessen ambiguity and provide a reliable record,” said Snohomish County Councilmember Jared Mead. “We will continue to find ways to improve our law and justice system for the good of all in our community.”
Throughout the test program, the Sheriff’s Office will familiarize staff with each vendor’s hardware, software and various features to help determine a requirements list which will be used to select a final vendor during the purchasing phase.
Executive Dave Somers, working with the County Council, has committed to expanding the program until every deputy has a body cam. While the cameras themselves are relatively inexpensive, the public records retention and management are a significant on-going cost.
If the Sheriff’s Office receives full funding to equip every deputy sheriff with a body worn camera, purchasing will start next year and it is expected to take at least 12 months to roll out the cameras and software to all areas of the Sheriff’s Office.