By the end of the year, all Louisa County Sheriff’s Office deputies in the county will be equipped with body cameras.
Funding to buy 55 new cameras comes from a portion of the $3.2 million awarded to Louisa County as part of the CARES Act, a federal fund set up in part to help localities recover from the coronavirus. The sheriff’s office currently has 17 cameras.
The Louisa County Board of Supervisors approved the request from the sheriff’s office on July 6.
“Body cameras increase transparency as well as the safety of the public and our officers,” sheriff’s office Major Ronnie Roberts told the board.
According to Roberts, when officers respond to a call, they are generally focused on one or two people, but when there’s a large group of people involved, it’s difficult to track everyone at the scene. In the event of a coronavirus exposure, the cameras will allow officers to review footage and get an accurate list of people who may be affected.
“Working in partnership with the contact tracers, what we’re trying to do is minimize disease transmission,” he said.
The body cameras were one of the first items discussed by the Louisa Community Strong Committee. The group first met in early June after several weeks of protests across the United States that followed the killing of an African American man, George Floyd, by a Minnesota police officer.
In many instances, officers, legal experts and the community have found the video footage from cameras to be helpful in providing justice for people involved in altercations with police.
The 55 cameras will cost $132,000. The county will pay an additional $40,000 per year in maintenance expenses for video storage and upkeep.
Funds from the CARES Act incurred due to the coronavirus public health emergency must be used by December.