The new dash video cameras being installed in Kendall County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicles will one day work in union with body cameras when the agency purchases them, according to Sheriff Dwight Baird.
The new cameras, approved by the Kendall County Board in December, will also be connected using cellular technology to a cloud-based storage system, Baird said.
The board approved a contract not to exceed $191,524 with Brite Computers of Victor, New York, in December for a Getac Veretos camera system.
Baird said the sheriff’s office got an “end-of-life” notice for its old system a year or two ago, and that the office has been “getting parts” but there is no support for the old system. He said the agency had been planning ahead to replace the system and that savings from the courthouse security upgrade allowed them to move ahead with the purchase sooner than expected.
Baird said that these days both judges and juries like to see a video record of police stops.
“Judges and juries, when they’re looking at evidence on a traffic stop or something like that, it’s always nicer to have a video to review in order to see exactly what happened from an unbiased opinion,” he said.
Baird recalled that when he was with the Oswego Police Department, he and Jim Jensen, now a deputy chief with Oswego police, came up with private donations and oversaw the installation of the first video camera system in that department’s squad cars in 1994.
“Since then, 24 years later, society expects police officers to have cameras,” he said. “[Now,] if you have a squad car that’s assigned a patrol, it should have a video camera operating. Now does stuff break down once in a while? Yeah. But 99 percent of our traffic stops that are performed by patrol, they are videoed. Our investigative cars and other cars are not, but [traffic patrol] is not their primary focus.”
The new system will allow officers to upload the videos into an off-site cloud-based storage system, which is more efficient for the officers’ time and the storage space for the video records, he said. The officers now use a cable run out of the video system in their trunk to an outlet in the side of the Public Safety Center, Baird said.
“That recommendation to go to the cloud-based storage came from our IT department,” he said. “In our systems now, the cars have to park on the side of the building, we have to plug in a Cat 6 cable into the trunk of the car and [the videos] are downloaded through a Cat 6 cable. With this new system it’s all going to be through a cellular [network], and it’s encrypted and downloaded right to the cloud. And then we can make our copies onto drives for evidentiary stuff.”
Baird said that the system is ready for body cameras when the sheriff’s office can purchase them in the future.
“The system that we bought is ready to go, to incorporate body cameras,” he said. “It’s, can you afford [body cameras]? That’s what we’re looking at later on.”
He said when the office gets body cameras, they will probably be used in corrections first and then for patrol officers.
Baird said the training that deputies go through on the use of force helps avoid certain issues.
“We have a real robust training program here at the sheriff’s office,” he said. “We’re constantly training our deputies on use of force issues and law issues, so I think that can avoid a lot of conflict that some of the other agencies have gone through.”
The deputies like having the cameras and the video recordings of stops, he said.
“They know that it’s being video recorded; they know what they’re doing is being memorialized in that,” he said.