Racine County deputies, correctional officers to start wear body cameras

Posted at 5:54 PM, Jul 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-14 19:00:10-04

RACINE -- Police interaction with the public in Racine County will soon be captured on tape 24/7. 

Deputies and correctional officers are being issued body cameras. The price tag for 170 body cameras and storage on the cloud is over $900,000, but the board said at this time in history, they can't afford not to do it.

“This was something I researched back in late 2014," said Sheriff Christopher Schmaling.

Sheriff Schmaling says he's thrilled every deputy and every correctional officer will soon have one.

“If I were to start my shift, I would come in, I would turn this on, then it’s activated," said Sheriff Schmaling.

Double click and the recording begins, both video and audio.

“So we’re going to hear what they say, what the citizen said, and not to spell out any particular officer involved shooting across the country, but think of the difference those shootings could’ve made had the community right away been able to see and hear for themselves what occurred," said Sheriff Schmaling.

And just in case the button is hit a little late, the device can go back in time, recording the previous 30 seconds.

“It’s a default built into the system And that’s one of the main reasons why I selected this product, is they were the only ones out there that has this amazing technology," said Sheriff Schmaling.

They're costly up front, but a possible money saver down the road.  The sheriff thinks body cameras could have better answered how a man in 2012 died in the Racine County Jail. The family sued and was granted $1 million.

“You know we want to be as transparent as possible within the community and within our jail, so this just makes a lot of sense to us," said Racine County Board Executive Jonathan Delagrave.

The sheriff's video will be stored for 120 days, and there's a setting that prevents officers from deleting it.  An administrator may grab a portion of the video to show the district attorney, but then the administrator's actions will be listed as doing so.