The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office announced plans to use body cameras for patrol deputies beginning in early 2018, according to a news release.
Chatham County Investigations captain Chris Cooper said in a news release that there was a question of privacy between employees and the public.
“Maintaining and storing large amounts of data is expensive as well as time consuming," Cooper stated. "If cameras are never turned off, the sheer volume of storage would cause costs to skyrocket.”
Chatham County's implementation of body cameras will align with many other law enforcement agencies in North Carolina. The Carrboro police department introduced body cameras to its officers in June and currently has access to seven cameras. The Town of Carrboro’s goal is to equip all patrol officers with body cameras by the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year.
Carrboro Police Captain Chris Atack said the town has qualified for a grant through the Department of Justice to fund the purchase of more cameras to outfit the rest of the town’s patrol officers.
To address transparency and the public's right to privacy, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen worked to preemptively adopt a policy of openness in regards to the public’s ability to view footage captured by officers’ body cameras.
“The language we included in the policy established the presumption that the department would be open as possible to allowing people to view videos in which they are included,” Aldermen member Damon Seils said.
North Carolina law currently dictates that body camera footage can only be acquired through a request by the person on camera or an official representative of that person. If the owner of the footage refuses to release it, filmed individuals can also seek a court order to obtain the footage.
Atack said officers' body camera usage in Carrboro could present problems for some residents.