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Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office begins testing body cameras

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s office announced September 2nd that they will begin testing body cameras with select deputies. According to the press release, “Body worn cameras are used to improve transparency and accountability for both law enforcement and the community at large.”

In this initial test, three different body camera vendors will each supply the sheriff’s office with four cameras. Twelve deputies will wear the test cameras in the Sheriff’s Office Violent Offender Task Force, motors unit, and patrol division for a six-week period. 

During the six-week trial, the sheriff’s office will examine the various components and features of each vendor’s equipment to determine the requirements used to select the final vendor. 

In collaboration with the county council, Executive Dave Somers has committed to expanding the program until all deputies have cameras. If the sheriff’s office receives sufficient funding to rig every deputy sheriff with a camera, purchasing will begin in 2022 and will likely take another year to roll out the necessary equipment installation to all areas of the sheriff’s office. 

There seems to be a positive consensus among county officials regarding the use of bodycams. Sheriff Adam Fortney, a strong supporter of the effort, said, “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.”

“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.”

“Body cameras are good for our law enforcement officers and good for our community,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. When adding his voice of approval, Somers explained the benefits of body cameras. “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,” he said. “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.”

“This is an important step forward in maintaining trust within our entire community,” said Snohomish County Council Chair Stephanie Wright, who was equally adamant about the need for transparency. “And I am in full support of providing body cameras for Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Deputies.”

Snohomish County Councilmember Jared Mead echoed the same sentiment. “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,” he said. “We will continue to find ways to improve our law and justice system for the good of all in our community.”

As Herald Net reported, funding for the bodyworn camera project will go towards purchasing and maintaining the new equipment, but the sheriff’s office is also requesting funding to hire three additional employees to aid the program. “One technical support position and two public disclosure positions will be created,” according to the Herald Net.

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