Sheriff’s Office Body Cameras Break Through Obstacle | Greene County
CATSKILL — Every deputy in the Greene County Sheriff’s Office could soon be outfitted with body cameras after the Greene County Legislature Public Safety Committee on Wednesday approved $250,000 in funding for the equipment during its Wednesday evening meeting.
The measure will head to the full legislature for a vote.
The Greene County Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, which was formed in 2020, recommended in March 2021 that the sheriff’s office adopt body cameras for its entire force.
After initially refusing to fund the cameras, the legislature is considering passing a measure that would buy 60 for the agency.
“It started two years ago when we had the police reform committee,” Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said after Wednesday’s meeting. “It was a recommendation that came out of the police reform committee and then in the next year’s budget cycle the council rejected the request to go to body cameras. Now (Sheriff) Pete Kusminsky brought it back because there’s a general assumption that pretty much any accredited agency will be mandated to have them now. So it’s pretty much forced.
The resolution, which was passed unanimously by the Public Safety Committee, notes that the Greene County Sheriff’s Office believes that purchasing the cameras would represent a positive step toward modern policing and increase trust and transparency within the community.
“We should do it anyway because I believe in it,” Groden said. “I think more often than not it exculpates an officer rather than not. Particularly with the car cameras, because we will have one that is actually filming in the back seat. So if you try to bang your head against the back window and they say, “Hey, I got beat up. It will be filmed. »
Under the proposal, the county would purchase 60 body cameras for $29,940 and 27 police car camera kits for $106,650. The installation price offered to the county by Pro-Vision Video Systems in Michigan is $25,299 for 38 police vehicles. The total cost of the project is $286,456, with the sheriff’s office hoping to receive a grant from the US Department of Justice that could reimburse up to $44,000 of the purchase price of the equipment.
“We had the police review board last year, which we were mandated by Governor Cuomo,” Greene County Legislative Speaker Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said. , after Wednesday’s meeting. “One of the suggestions was to equip all of our officers with body cameras. So you’re looking at a quarter of a million dollars and then you have to maintain the software and the storage for the life of the camera. That’s so an expensive proposal. It was one of the suggestions of the police review board and it makes a lot of sense. It’s good for residents and good for officers. So that was one of the things that we considered and we put it in the budget.
The money for the camera equipment will come from the county fund balance, Groden said. Processing body and car camera footage will incur additional expense and labor for the county.
“The other complication with this is that it becomes evidence,” Groden said. “At the end of an officer’s shift, it has to be uploaded and someone has to come in and slice and dice it. If you get arrested it has to go to the district attorney and the public defender and under discovery rules it has to go to the defense attorneys. So it’s more than the camera, the back of the house will be really big. I’ll have to hire someone for that. Because you have all these agents working 12 hours a day 365 days a year and all these downloads need to be stored properly. So it’s more than that dollar amount we have, it’s probably double that amount.
The police reform committee was made up of members of the sheriff’s office as well as community leaders, including the Reverend Richard Turpin of the Second Baptist Church of Catskill and Catskill Central School District Superintendent Ronel Cook.
The Greene County Collaborative Policing Reform Plan was passed on March 17, 2021 by the Greene County Legislature.