Tulare County Sheriff's patrol officers will soon have an extra set of eyes

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All Tulare County patrol officers will soon have another piece of equipment to put on-- body cameras. (KFSN)

All Tulare County patrol officers will soon have another piece of equipment to put on-- body cameras. The Sheriff believes it will increase safety, accountability, and transparency when officers and members of the public meet.

Training is going on over the next couple weeks, with the hope to have all patrol officers outfitted with body cameras by the end of the month. The cameras aren't cheap. The total cost for the five-year contract with Taser is more than a million dollars. But Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said the pros outweigh any cons, the biggest being transparency.

"To show that we're doing it right, we're not doing it wrong," said Boudreaux.

Deputies have tested different brands of cameras for the past year and a half. But the department eventually chose Taser because of its cloud-based storage system, and the ability to upgrade equipment as technology changes.

Tulare County patrol officers already have video surveillance in their vehicles. But now they can record interactions outside the car as long as they have a legal and just cause to be there.

"Now we're able to record the one on one contacts, which is really important to us as far as evidence and the ability to show that officers are doing things right," said Boudreaux.

But the sheriff said body camera video may not always be released to the public, especially in sensitive cases. And there are certain places or situations where deputies will not activate the device, such as inside a hospital or while interviewing a child.

In general, he said deputies are excited about using the technology and have already found people complain less and behave better when they know they're on camera.

"So really, if it's going to benefit in the collection of evidence as well as calm the spirits of those who may be a little more agitated in the public-- and bring more of a reasonable sense of police officer contact-- it will be safer for the officer, it will be safer for the community and really a benefit for all," said Boudreaux.

The sheriff's office is also looking into a grant right now that would allow them to purchase body cameras for those in the custody division.
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