DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – The Darlington County Sheriff’s Office was recently awarded more than $112,000 to buy body cameras for deputies.
The money comes from the Body-worn Camera Fund established by the General Assembly. In June 2015, South Carolina become one of the first states to pass legislation requiring state and local law enforcement officers to wear a camera while on duty. However, the legislation could not be mandated until all officers had a body camera, which is why the fund was established.
In September 2016, the Department of Justice awarded more than $20 million to 32 states, included South Carolina, for law enforcement body-worn camera programs.
The Darlington County Sheriff’s Office says the cameras are needed within their unit to show accountability and transparency.
“We knew that we were able to apply for this money,” explains Lt. Robert Kilgo. “We started work immediately trying to figure out what body cameras we wanted and would best suit the needs of this department and so we applied for that money and we have received that money.”
Not having the body cameras as part of each deputy’s uniform presented problems the office is now happy to avoid. Deputies can now avoid having to recall potential witnesses. The cameras will show individuals involved in the case in different ways – theoretically making an investigation easier and more thorough.
“We would have to go through an entire process of interviewing people, interviewing that deputy,” explains Lt. Kilgo of the process. “Time the investigator on the complaint could be out there investigating property crimes, or assault, or just other things like that.”
The Darlington County Sheriff’s Office ordered 20 body cameras and will be ready to train and put them to use upon arrival. Officials hope to have everyone equipped and trained on the body cams by the start of 2018.