▶️ DCSO tests out body cams; deputy says new equipment is ‘invaluable’

By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

For the next 60 days, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office will test out two different brands of body cameras and car cameras.

After the trial period, the agency will decide which one to purchase.

“This is the first time I’ve been able to use them as a deputy and I like them,” Deputy Kevin Riding said.

Digital Forensic Sergeant Zach Neemann said they’re testing the cameras out now so they can have a cost estimate ready for the 2021-22 budget.

“When we’re talking about deploying in-car and body-worn cameras for an entire department, it is a substantial cost,” Neemann said. “So we want to make sure we get it right, we want to make sure we choose the right vendor, and we want to make sure we do it fiscally responsible.”

Riding has used his cameras for about a week and says they’re already invaluable.

“We can be held accountable if need be, but also if people in the public are misbehaving, they can be held accountable to a higher degree as well and we can capture better evidence in those circumstances,” Riding said.

One of the cameras is attached to the deputy’s vest. Two more are mounted in the deputy’s car, with one pointed toward the road and the other filming the back seat.

“If there is confessions that we can’t hear because of road noise or other things we can go back and review that,” Riding said. “Sometimes people make statements out of the blue that are great evidence in court. Now we can review that and capture those things.”

“Whether it’s officer complaints, whether it’s a use of force, whether it’s an officer-involved shooting or something else, it provides one piece of a wholistic picture that helps us determine what happened,” Neemann said.

DCSO and Bend Police have been working on getting body cameras for years. Bend Police was approved $100,000 earlier this year to test out different brands.

DCSO’s camera program will be implemented sometime during the 2021-2022 budget year.

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