Sheriff’s Dept. to purchase body cams

MIAMI COUNTY — After months of discussion, Sheriff Dave Duchak and Miami County Commissioners are moving forward to equip Miami County Sheriff’s deputies with body cameras.

Sheriff Duchak said that the purchase has been in the works for several years. “It has been a matter of prioritizing,” said Duchak. “I’m a big believer in them. I think that it is good for the deputies. I think that it is good for the community. It protects both.

Recent current events have moved the priority of the body cameras higher on the list.

A portion of the cost of the cameras was offset thanks to a donation of $25,000 by one of the Thom and Pat Robinson Funds. Additional cost savings will come from the county’s risk-sharing insurance company will provide a $300 dollar credit on each of the 65 cameras. Duchak said that a total of $44,500 of non-tax payer dollars are being utilized to purchase the cameras and related equipment.

The total project cost, including cameras, software, and IT infrastructure is $159,269.

Duchak said that each deputy will have his/her own body camera issued.

The cameras are manufactured by Watch Guard, the same company that makes the camera systems in the county cruisers. “We’ve had Watch Guard cruiser cams since 2007,” said Duchak, “We’ve been very happy with those and the body cameras will sync with the car cameras.”

The Watch Guard body cams have been in use by the Piqua Police Department for several years.

The cameras being purchased by Miami County will feature a new human-recognition technology that will enable the camera to stay “locked on” to those interacting with deputies, even when the deputy might turn and not be squarely facing someone.

Deputies are largely in favor of utilizing the body cameras as protection against false allegations.

In addition to the task of protecting officers and the public by providing video evidence of all encounters between uniformed officers and the public, the cameras will also serve as a training tool.

Deputy Piqua Police Chief Tom Steiner said that the cameras are useful tools for reviewing officer’s actions to provide guidance. Both Duchak and Steiner mentioned that the camera footage is invaluable in monitoring new officers/deputies and developing good habits.

The cameras are weather resistant and should withstand day-to-day situations that law enforcement officers find themselves.

Delivery of the body cameras is expected to happen after the first of the year.