Oktibbeha County Sheriff's deputies utilize new body cameras

Chief Deputy Chadd Gar holds the OCSO new L-3 body cameras for Sheriff's deputies. (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
Staff Writer

The Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office will begin easing into the use of body cameras in their daily routine starting today.

Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney said deputies used body cameras in the past, but they were a cheaper version, lower quality and didn’t last long.

Gladney said the main problem OCSO had obtaining the cameras was providing the upgrades to their server to properly store the footage.

“Getting the body cameras is pretty simple, but being able to store all of the footage, it becomes a problem,” Gladney said.

Chief Deputy Chadd Gar said there were recommendations from different law enforcement agencies on which cameras to purchase.

“We actually got three different types of cameras and gave them to three different deputies,” Gar said. “Then they came in and gave a report.”

After hearing the reports, Gar and Gladney decided the L-3 body camera would be the best fit for the deputies.

Gar said the decision of the L-3 camera came from it only being one piece of equipment for the deputy to manage, and was user friendly.

“The least you can have hanging on your uniform when you’re working patrol the better,” Gar said.

OCSO will unofficially go live with the body cameras until Sept. 1, to help deputies get used to the new equipment and work out the kinks before the first Mississippi State University home football game.

“It gives us some time. We don’t want to lose a video because we don’t know what we’re doing and then have to answer those questions,” Garr said.

As for protocol, Gar said he advises deputies to turn the camera on the minute a call comes in, to monitor radio traffic, but the standard will be to turn it once they arrive on scene.

Gar said if the deputy is going to be directing traffic, or if they are helping a resident change a tire, their supervisor can give them the go ahead to turn the camera off.

“You’re going to know by the nature of the call too a lot of the times,” Gladney said.

Gladney said the importance of the body cameras will be crucial when it comes to solving cases, especially when they can go to court and show the judge and the jury the raw video.

“If there’s a question in there, hey, the body camera is going to tell the truth,” Gladney said.

Gar said there’s an old saying that says there’s three versions of a story: your version, my version and the real version.

“Now, we can take all three of them into court,” Bar said.

Investigators will also be required to wear body cameras, so there is no question as to how evidence was collected.

As for the security of the body camera footage, Gar said it would be nearly impossible for anyone to tamper with the video. He said there is software in place, which will log every detail of who opens it.

“Anybody that goes in and views it, it shows that,” Gar said. “Anybody that downloads it, it shows that, so it’s a chain of custody.”