Shelby County police to receive body cameras

Published 2:28 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is set to receive body cameras for its officers—bringing enhanced transparency between local first responders and the public.

The Shelby County Commission awarded a bid for 135 body cameras to be used by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office during a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Nov. 13.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to deploy body cameras for our field operations,” Chief Deputy Clay Hammac said. “I am even more grateful for the foresight and partnership with our county commissioners for funding this project.”

The SCSO was already utilizing camera systems in patrol vehicles as well as an audio recorder for each deputy, but now it can take advantage of body cameras that will be compatible with the same server and systems.

“The Commission has discussed it for the last three years and we knew we were going in that direction, we were just waiting for the product to catch up and this year was that year,” Sheriff John Samaniego said.

Samaniego said the SCSO was concerned with the use of cameras when they were first released on a widespread basis, due to the possibility of the camera battery dying or the camera losing connection.

“The worst thing you can have is to be wearing a body camera and it doesn’t work because nobody is going to believe you (when you say) it wasn’t working properly,” Samaniego. “What we wanted to do is make sure that product met the quality of Shelby County. We try to stay top-shelf all the time.”

Samaniego said he believes that some of the negative thoughts citizens have about police will be dispersed thanks to the addition of the cameras.

“We polled the deputies, ‘What is your feeling on body cameras,’” Samaniego said. (And) 80-something percent of the deputies wanted them. So, that means they’re going to support that, they’re not going to try and get around it.”

According to Samaniego, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office hopes to have the cameras deployed by the first of next year or the first quart of net year.

“As the law enforcement profession continues to evolve, we must seize every opportunity to continue to communicate our devotion to accountability and transparency, through excellence in service, in all that we do,” Hammac said. “The body camera simply serves as a tool to reassure our community that our priorities are unchanging; that we safeguard lives, property and protect the Constitutional freedoms and rights of all.”