CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The Kanawha County Commission approved the purchase of body cameras for the county’s sheriff’s office in April 2022. During their meeting on Thursday, almost a year later, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office provided a progress report.
Chief Deputy Joe Crawford announced that they are getting closer to their goal but they are not rushing into a purchase given the amount of money it would cost to supply these cameras to their officers.
It was initially estimated that it would cost from $900,000 to $1 million to supply nearly 100 officers with body and dash cams. Now, the cost has gone up to almost two million dollars.
“One of our big hurdles has been to try to obtain that funding and we like to do it with grant money. We want as few dollars to come out of the pockets as possible,” Seargent Joshua Lester says after the meeting.
The sheriff’s office has been trialing some new body cams for almost a year now and these cameras come with features that only a few departments in the mountain state have access to.
This includes a bundle connection to dash cams in the cruisers, which means when triggered, both cameras will start recording simultaneously.
13 News was able to go on a ride along with one of the deputies whose been using the camera day to day. He tells us while it will make the department more transparent but it also offers some comfort while on duty.
Crawford also says they will continue trying different products and have another progress report for the commission in a few months.
The body cams are expected to be equipped by 2024 but before that happens, the sheriff’s office will be getting input from everyone in Kanawha County on how to move forward with a new body cam policy.
“We get the stakeholders involved with the policy like the Kanawha County Prosecutors Office, the Public Defender’s Office, and the community so they can all have a part in how we craft our policy,” Crawford says.