Sheriff’s Dept. officers sporting body cams

BUCKHANNON — Upshur County sheriff’s deputies have another tool to help them in their police work this year.
The department now has body cameras that are worn on the front of each deputy’s uniform.
“We’ve had them in use for close to a month,” sheriff David Coffman said. “I’m very pleased with the cameras. It’s an awesome resource for the officers to have.”
The body-worn cameras are being implemented in departments across the country. The Buckhannon Police Department also has some body cameras in use.
“One thing I have seen is how they are used to help us in collecting evidence at scenes,” Coffman said. “It helps to tell the full story.”
The cameras also help as far as accountability.
“My job is to make sure that the public is treated fairly,” he added.
Now, Coffman said if a citizen makes a complaint, he can easily review the footage to see what was said and what happened.
“It protects both sides,” he said.
The sheriff said the body cameras will also assist deputies in their investigations and in court appearances.
Interviews can be easily videotaped with audio and then uploaded to a server. A DVD can then be produced to give to the prosecuting attorney for use in court.
Purchasing body cameras was something that Coffman first tried to do with grants, but with grant funding drying up, he decided to explore a different route.
“I’ve been wanting to get these for two or three years,” he said.
Coffman decided to use money from the concealed weapons permits fund to help make the $16,500 purchase possible.
“Every deputy has a body camera, from our Prevention Resource Officers to our road deputies and court bailiffs,” he said.

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