Watch: Body Cams Presenting a Pricey Problem
Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) —
Walter Scott’s family has called for body cameras on all law enforcement, after a camera captured the 50 year old’s fatal shooting by a North Charleston police officer.
Scott’s brother Anthony says,”I think it’s very imperative that across America body cameras are implemented for police officers.”
That call was answered by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2015 with a bill requiring all state and local law enforcement to implement the use of body worn cameras.
The decision is one that members on both sides of the bench support.
Sheriff Leon Lott tells ABC Columbia, “It helps us police the police but it also gives us evidence, evidence for prosecuting cases.”
Defense attorney and Richland County Councilman Seth Rose says “There is no hedging of notes. The video is what it is,” but explains that outfitting officers with body cameras presents a problem.
He explains, “The legislature gave $3 million state wide for the body cameras. Just the Richland County Sheriff’s Department needs close to $1 million to implement this state law.”
Under the law, agencies can wait for state funding to purchase the body cameras but there’s no clear cut timeline on when that money will be available.
“The state says they’re going to pay that but they haven’t appropriated the money for it,” says Sheriff Lott.
According to Senator Vincent Sheheen it could be years.
He says, “It’s one thing to say you’re going to have body cameras it’s another thing to fund it and that’s where the test will really be for South Carolina lawmakers.”
The same lawmakers who have cut local government funds over the past five years.
Senator Sheheen continues, “This is yet another example of services that need to be provided that our current state government is not funding as by law it’s supposed to.”
This leaves lingering doubts among agencies about when they’ll see funding for body cams.
“Everybody felt good last year when we passed it, but there wasn’t the teeth in it and there wasn’t the money behind it,” says Sheriff Lott.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Department has written and submitted their policies for the body worn cameras.