Madison County Sheriff’s Office approved to purchase deputy body cameras

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - The Madison County Commission has given the go-ahead for the purchase of the latest and greatest technology in on-officer recording for the Madison County Sheriff's office.

The sheriff's office will soon join Athens and Arab police in utilizing Taser Axon body cameras. The device is like a GoPro camera, but smaller - and will take law enforcement audio/visual documentation and transparency to the next level for the sheriff's office.

"It can be turned on at a traffic stop, it could be used at perhaps a domestic violence complaint - it allows us to record evidence."

Recording is not something new for local law enforcement but typical car-mounted cameras certainly have their drawbacks according to Chief Deputy David Jernigan.

"In 2006 we started the in-car camera and it has its limitations. It only records in the direction the car is pointing. So on a traffic stop it's great if the car's in front of you. If you step away the audio might pick up but you may lose video. This will allow us to see real-time what the deputy sees," Jernigan explains.

The cameras can send footage to the cloud for archive purposes but don't offer telemetry in the way of live streaming capabilities. The technology will obviously enhance safety but not just for community members - it can limit deputy liability as well.

"Therefore if a frivolous lawsuit comes in or an allegation of wrongdoing we have audio/visual elements to back that up and protect ourselves."

The cost of the new equipment will be paid through grants and department discretionary funds. The sheriff's office hopes to offset at least $42,000 of the estimated $131,000 equipment cost  with Department of Justice grant money they recently applied for.


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