HOPEWELL — Calling it “the right thing to do,” Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson said his officers will start wearing body-worn cameras at the start of 2021.
“We know the public has called for more law enforcement agencies to wear body cameras, and the overall goal of the program is to enhance community trust by documenting law enforcement encounters with the public and promoting transparency,” Henderson said.
Henderson began looking into body cams shortly after taking office at the start of 2019, and had discussed the issue with his predecessor, Phil Povero, during the transition period. He worked with county Board of Supervisors members on funding, which was approved at last Thursday’s board meeting.
The cost is about $1 million over a five-year contract with Axon Enterprise, an Arizona-based company that develops technology and weapons products for law enforcement and civilians. The company, formerly TASER International, is used by numerous entities around the country and world.
The contract covers body cams for 90 officers including road patrol deputies, patrol supervisors and administrators, and video and data storage. It also includes new Tasers that activate the officer’s body cam when the Taser is deployed.
Henderson said if a deputy is at an incident with a police officer from another agency, such as Geneva or Canandaigua, the officers’ body cam will automatically activate if any officer engages in use of force. Those agencies also use body cams through Axon.
Henderson added that corrections officers at the jail also will be using body cams through a pilot program, although those will be shared cameras.
“I am a firm believer in technology and its advances in law enforcement, both for officer safety and safety of the public. This will aid in more effective prosecutions and improve the investigation of citizens complaints as well as protect against false allegations of misconduct,” he said. “I really feel having body cameras on our deputies is the right thing to do.”