Oxford County deputies to be given wearable cameras

by Peter McGuire, Staff Writer Sun Journal Feb. 19, 2014

If you happen to get pulled over by a sheriff's deputy in Oxford County in the near future, there's a good chance your conversation will be video-recorded and stored, if not for posterity, then at least for department records. 

That's because the Oxford County Sheriff's Office has begun equipping its personnel with wearable digital cameras so they can record, from a first-person perspective, their interactions with drivers they pull over, suspects they interview, or crime scenes they investigate.

Chief Deputy Hart Daley
Chief Deputy Hart Daley of the Oxford County Sheriff's Office attaches one of the new wearable digital cameras in his office in Paris on Feb. 18. Twelve deputies will be outfitted with the devices.
Chief Deputy Hart Daley

According to Chief Deputy Hart Daley, the department recently purchased 12 "cop vu" cameras with money from a federal Justice Assistance Grant. The cameras cost about $900 apiece, he said.

"It's going to be invaluable for criminal prosecution, investigative purposes and liability concerns for the county," Daley told Oxford County commissioners Tuesday.

The cameras, about the size and shape of a small cellphone, have a heavy-duty alligator clip that can be attached to the front of a deputy's uniform. Sliding a protective slip down away from the lens turns the camera and microphone on.

Daley said the camera's memory can hold about four hours of footage, and the password-protected content can be uploaded directly onto a department laptop through a USB cable.

Although deputies can extract still images from the raw footage, the cameras are specially designed to prevent tampering or deleting video, Daley said.

"Let's say a call doesn't go favorably one way or the other and a deputy says 'geez, I don't want anyone to see this,' because they made a mistake or whatever, too bad," he told commissioners.

Two of the cameras are being provided to detectives in the department's criminal investigation division and one is being provided to the School Resource Officer stationed in the Sacopee Valley High School in Hiram, Daley said. 

The other nine units are being provided to members of the department who were selected because they are particularly assertive and active while on patrol, Daley said.

The department plans to provide all of its deputies with personal cameras in the future, Daley said.