Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies to start wearing body cameras

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WATERTOWN — Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies will begin wearing body cameras for all interactions with the public beginning sometime in the next week, Sheriff Colleen M. O’Neill said.

In 2020, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed Executive Order 203 requiring police departments across the state to develop reform plans. As part of meetings and research, Sheriff O’Neill said that “pretty much” everyone in the sheriff’s office was in agreement with officers wearing body cameras.

She said that it took two years to receive the cameras because of the slow pace of government.

Every deputy and detective will be assigned a body camera, but there are some situations in which detectives would not be wearing them.

The policy states that the cameras will be on for any interaction with the public, and the officer will not be allowed to turn off the body camera until the interaction is over, Sheriff O’Neill said.

The Freedom of Information Law will allow for the public to obtain body camera footage.

Training that officers were going through on Wednesday is done by Axon, the company that manufactures the cameras. The training is several hours long and shows them what the camera is capable of doing and how to care for and use it.

“We will continue to train as we go along,” Sheriff O’Neill said.

She said that “pretty much” all officers will go through the training with Axon as some people are on vacation or sick leave, but added that the training is so extensive that sergeants will be able to teach the deputies and detectives who weren’t able to attend.

Sheriff O’Neill said that having body cameras won’t affect the way deputies do their jobs.

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