On Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, deputies in Tazewell County unveiled new body cameras. 65 body cameras were bought by the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office for about $300 a piece. The cameras were issued two weeks ago. Now when officers respond to a call, they are required to turn on their body cameras. A supervisor can also view the video going on as it happens on their phone if they are within a 65 foot radius. The video goes to a secure cloud service. There, deputies can view it but cannot make any edits. People in the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office can even view it.
Deputies said they’ve had a positive response from the public so far. “I think it’s a sense of relief for the citizen as well, to know that the officers and deputies are being held to the standard that is expected,” said Major Harold Heatley with the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office.
Some people we spoke to think it’s a good idea. “There’s a lot of stuff that goes on that we don’t know about that cops deal with. I think it’s a great idea to protect them and protect us too,” said Brittany West.
Other’s don’t like the idea. “I don’t think it’s fair. I think it’s a personal thing like you should ask the public if it’s ok to do that before you do it. I don’t want people knowing my business.” said Kymberlee Harper.
“If it happens in a public area, the officer has every right to testify about what he saw happen at the crime scene and on the side of the road,” said Commonwealth Attorney, Dennis Lee. “It is no more invasive than the officer being able to retell that.”
The cameras can record up to about ten hours. Deputies said before this upgrade, they used tiny cameras called “Scorpions.”