Bartholomew County sheriff says deputies need body cameras, asks council for $206,000 to pay for them

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BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY, Ind. – A local sheriff feels his department has waited long enough for body cameras and the purchase should be a top priority for the county.

“These cameras are not a want, they are a need,” said Sheriff Matt Myers with the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

Currently none of the deputies with the department have body cameras and none of the patrol cars have cameras in them either. Sheriff Myers is pushing for the body cams for an extra layer of protection.

“My job is obviously to protect the community and the community members but it’s also my job to protect the deputies who work here and these cameras they may not be a fix-all but they’re better than not having anything at all,” said Sheriff Myers.

The official request is for 35 Taser weapons and 35 body cameras, which include holsters and unlimited storage. The 35 body cameras would cover nearly every deputy on the force.

The cameras act as an extra set of eyes, recording any situation from beginning to end.

“It holds everybody accountable, the deputy that is wearing it is held accountable but it holds the community member accountable too when they’re interacting with law enforcement,” said Sheriff Myers.

The request comes with a $206,000 price tag, set to be paid over a 5-year period. County councilmembers admit the budget is tight.

“As a council we will have to prioritize. We have requests for people. We have requests for public safety, like body cameras. We have requests for new buildings. We have requests for existing buildings,” said Laura DeDomenic, Bartholomew County Council President.

Just last week, a deputy was involved in a foot pursuit with a suspect. The suspect allegedly pulled out a gun and fired it. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

“If the deputy would have had to use lethal force, which he was justified, without that camera footage there would be a lot of questions,” said Sheriff Myers.

Sheriff Myers doesn’t want to wait for another close call or a call that’s even worse.

“They need to figure out to fund them,” said Sheriff Myers.

This issue is expected to be on the council’s agenda next month. The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department tells CBS4 that if everything gets approved, deputies could have the cameras as early as this summer.