Body cameras are coming to Charleston County sheriff’s office

The Charleston County Sheriff’s office will soon be outfitting all deputies with body cameras. A council committee approved this decision on Thursday, noting that 270 cameras will be purchased, along with the equipment needed to download and store footage. $250,000 has been appropriated for these expenses.

According to The Post and Courier, “The funds will pay for transcription and other new costs that 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson’s office will incur after deputies start using the cameras.”

In the Wake of the Walter Scott shooting, and other high profile officer involved shootings around the nation, Sheriff Al Cannon stated, “The climate today dictates this technology be used”.

Just last week, the Lowcountry saw another officer involved shooting of a man who had called police to assist him during a home invasion. Bryant Heyward, who placed the call to police while trying to protect himself from would be invaders, was critically injured after the officer yelled “show me your hands” but then shot Hayward less than two seconds later.

According to The Post and Courier, “Cannon said, “I think that is an example of a case that might have been aided by a body-worn camera. I think it’s important to recognize that it does not necessarily capture the most important part of an incident but it may.”

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen have both expressed desire to see all officers wearing body cameras. Officers coming off their shift will simply hand their cameras over to the next shift’s officer.

While everyone seems to agree this is a necessary step, there are some questions over privacy. According to Victoria Middleton, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, who was interviewed for The Post and Courier, “There are some situations such as interviewing a rape victim or minors where cameras should not be used. School resource officers also should not have them. And questions remain about who should have access to the recordings and how long they should be retained.”

Needless to say, there are still some details to be worked out. However, hopefully the implementation of body cameras will bring some peace to the heightened climate we’ve seen lately.