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Sheriff provides information on body cameras to Waushara County Supervisors

Waushara County Sheriff Jeff Nett gave a detailed presentation on body cameras and the questions that still need to be answered during the regular meeting of the Waushara County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 15.

 Sheriff Nett explained to the board there has been a lot of talk by the public, media, and politicians about body cameras being worn by law enforcement. He stated the body cameras come with a lot of good, but also come with some concerns, including the video only records where the device is pointed, not the side or the back of the officer as well as what happens if the officer forgets to turn it on.

“Lately officer involved shootings and the media and politicians in Washington, DC, and Madison fell all law enforcement should wear body cameras,” he said. “But we have questions that need to be addressed.”

Sheriff Nett explained the cameras are worn on the front of the officer to record what the officer sees, providing both audio and video evidence for court while protecting the officers from false claims. 

In his presentation, Sheriff Nett called it an “iceberg conversation,” as outfitting law enforcement with body cameras are just “the tip of the iceberg.” He explained to the board that there are numerous questions that needed to be addressed regarding this, including the amount of storage space needed, how to store the video, and the amount of time and effort it takes to handle video requests by the district attorney and open records requests.

The Waushara County Sheriff’s Department currently has 13 squad cars that record video, and just the squad cars alone filled the capacity of a 1 TB server, equivalent to 1 trillion bites of information or 3,000 hours of good, quality video.

Sheriff Nett said if the county purchases 19 body cameras for the deputies and detectives serving in his department the county would need to increase their storage capacity on their server to 12 to 18 TB. 

One of the more important questions Sheriff Nett rose to the board was when should the officer have the cameras on. “Record everything is the common sense answer,” he said. “What about dead bodies, mental illness, naked people, accidents, child abuse? Do you want this information available? This needs to be discussed.”

In concluding his presentation, Sheriff Nett stated that although the public believes law enforcement should have body cameras at what cost would it be to the communities if it were a federal or state mandate. “If it were up to me, I believe in body cameras,” he said. “I’m all for body cameras. I have nothing to hide.”

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