Bradley Co. Sheriff's Office testing body cameras for deputies
All Bradley County patrol deputies will soon wear body cameras.
Right now, they are testing cameras from three companies. They include Axon, Motorola Solutions and Watch Guard.
According to Sheriff Steve Lawson, Axon could come with a bundle opportunity for new tasers since the company bought TASER International. Lawson says their current tasers will need to be replaced soon. Lawson says he hopes to choose a company by the end of the year.
“We definitely want to get the most bang for our buck,” Lawson said.
Lawson estimates needing about 50 body cameras to equip all patrol deputies. He says they will pair with the cameras already installed in their patrol vehicles.
For each company, each camera costs about $1,000. However, that does not include the storage costs and a possible new full-time position for someone to oversee the footage and open records requests. Lawson says he hopes to include the costs in next year’s budget. He says donations and grants will also help.
“I'm not tied into any company. We're going to look at what's the best deal, what will serve us the best or what will serve the people of Bradley County the best for their money,” he said.
Regardless, Lawson says his department is behind when it comes to technology.
“We didn’t have body camera when got into office,” he said. “We've got to get better as far as technology.”
In the past six months, the county had three officer-involved shootings. The latest shooting happened on Laguna Drive. During a domestic dispute call, investigators say a man reached for his gun and a deputy shot him.
Lawson says the cameras will help in these cases and hold his officers accountable and assuring the community, they are doing thing right.
“We've got to make sure our officers are safe and can document what they go through.”
Lawson says he couldn't afford the cameras with last year's budget. The majority of that funding went towards the jail and staffing. However, he says some of the cameras at outside of the jail need to be replaced. He says that along with other upgrades will be the focus later.
“If we go halfway on this then we will be in trouble so we've got to lay out to the commission exactly what our needs are and I think they will listen and do the best they can do,” he said.