STANISLAUS COUNTY — During every shift, each Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputy on patrol will get a new body-worn camera.
It’s a tool that Sheriff Jeff Dirkse has spearheaded for months.
“Quite frankly, I think that our profession requires them and I think that the public expects them at this point,” Dirkse said.
“I’m glad they’re joining the 21st century. I think it’s a really good thing,” said criminal defense attorney Richard Meyere.
Meyere said the cameras are also instrumental in cases he represents.
“Use that to compare statements attributed to a client to what’s on the actual video,” Meyere said.
Sheriff Dirkse said he hopes the gadgets will increase transparency and trust within the community.
“Body cams provide an evidentiary recording of what actually occurred at the incident,” he said.
The sheriff said the cameras will be used whenever one of their deputies responds to a call. Once a shift is over the video is then uploaded and protected.
“If I view it for a reason that is out of policy or for a reason I’m not supposed to, I’m going to subject to discipline,” said Stanislaus County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Joshua Clayton.
There are now more than 200 cameras at a cost of more than $15,000 per month. The county’s general fund covers the expense.
In the end, the sheriff believes the cameras will help the department avoid lawsuits and complaints.
“I absolutely think that in the long run, you’re going to see that they are worth the money that we spent the money on,” Dirkse said.
It will take some time for deputies to grow accustomed to the cameras. With that in mind, the sheriff says there is a grace period of three months and after that, if a deputy does not use the camera when they’re supposed to they may be subjected to more training or discipline.