Athens Clarke-County Police and Body Cameras: What to Know

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ATHENS — Athens-Clarke County Police Department have been wearing body cameras for more than two years now.

Chief Deputy of Police Justin Gregory said complaints have decreased against officers since the cameras have been in use.

“The video technology is great,” Chief Gregory said. “Many times, when a complaint is filed, when we let the individual know that we have video footage, they withdraw their complaint.”

Officers are assigned the body cameras, required to wear them and turn them on when handling police business. There are instances when the cameras are advised to be turned off, such as using the restroom or ordering lunch.

Athens-Clarke County police use a software through evidence.com to track and save data collected from the cameras. By turning the cameras off when police business is not in effect, Gregory said this helps the department cut down on data costs as it is pricey to maintain the servers.

The cost of the servers and software is the main reason why Madison County Sherriff’s department does not use body cameras, according to chief deputy Shawn Burns. Instead, their deputies wear voice recorders when in the field.

Elbert County police chief Mark Welch said that all of his police officers are required to wear a body camera. He advises officers to leave the cameras on at all times in the instance that there is an emergency situation.

The cost to suit up one officer with a body camera is around $500.00, and there are about 240 officers with the Athens-Clarke County police department. Only officers who work on patrol are required to use them.

“Many look at the cameras as a magic pill,” Welch said. “While we are glad we have these cameras, it’s important for people to know that there is a human aspect to it as well”.

By Emily McLanahan

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