Kenosha sheriff demonstrates new body camera system

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KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Kenosha County Sheriff's Office demonstrated its new body camera system to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, May 18.

Some of the features include automatic recording settings.

For example, when a deputy turns on their red and blue lights or hits speeds of 90 miles per hour, the squad camera will start recording.

When they step out of the car, the body camera starts recording, too.

"It was about 80-thousand dollars a car to make that work about 15 years ago, now it's a couple thousand," said Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth.

He said this new system will help foster transparency.

"It's going to tie into all we do, it's going to be a great help to us," said Beth.

That thrilled Supervisor Zach Rodriguez.

"There's this eye in the sky, so to speak, that won't lie to us," said Rodriguez.

He said he never thought body cameras could perform all these functions. The Sheriff's Department said the cameras will record automatically, supervisors can watch a live feed on the cameras if they need to and it alerts dispatchers if an officer is in a weird position such as laying on the ground.

"We wanted a lot of different features so it would automatically turn on, so the deputy didn't have to turn them on," said Sgt. Chase Forster, with the department.

The body cameras have been installed in every squad and issued to corrections officers in the jail. Forster told the board they are also in the back of the prisoner transport vans, which they've never had before.

"It keeps people safe and to know there are these fail safes, where we're not going to hear an excuse, 'well the deputy forgot to turn on his body camera,'" said Rodriguez.

Supervisors appeared very happy with the purchase. Forster told the board they've run into a few hiccups with the cameras running out of power, but they're figuring out ways to extend the battery life.

Officers wear a wrist watch type of device they have to push three times to turn off a recording.

They only push it once to start.

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