Pa. county to vote on body cameras for COs
Mercy County jail warden wants body cameras to “protect us — the county and the staff”
By Melissa Klaric
The Herald, Sharon, Pa.
FINDLEY TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Mercer County commissioners will vote whether to buy body cameras for corrections officers at the county jail.
Warden Mac McDuffie said the officers need body cameras to record incidents that take place inside the jail.
“We have stable cameras right now, but there are a couple of blind spots,” McDuffie said. “I want the additional coverage for us so that we would have it to protect us — the county and the staff.”
One of the places that body cameras could prove useful is in booking.
“I really want the body cameras down in booking when people are coming in that are under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” McDuffie said. “That’s a hot spot for us.”
Commissioners asked McDuffie to get a three-quote comparison. After shopping around, McDuffie landed on the company Axon, which provides body cameras for several counties in Pennsylvania.
The Axon package is for 12 body cameras, software, unlimited storage on the cloud through Axon servers and technical support, all for $92,321. The funds will be coming from the jail’s canteen budget, which is normally used for providing safety for the inmates and staff.
McDuffie said the cloud-based storage system is lifetime, with zero loss of evidence or footage.
“Right now, we only get 90 days, so if we miss something or we need to go back two years, we can go back two years now,” McDuffie said.
Officials can also integrate existing camera images with body camera video so they can be viewed side-by-side, McDuffie said.
The prison board agreed to send the issue to the commissioners, who will vote on acquiring the cameras at a future meeting.
McDuffie said coverage is also needed when corrections officers do cell extractions and track inmate movements within the jail.
“It’s just extra security for us in the facility,” McDuffie said.
Follow Melissa Klaric on twitter @HeraldKlaric or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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