Utah County Sheriff’s Office personnel could have body cameras by 2015

Posted at 5:53 PM, Sep 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-04 09:37:28-04

UTAH COUNTY -- Body cameras for cops. It's an idea that's gaining steam after recent police shootings in Ferguson, Missouri and South Salt Lake.

Now, Utah County plans to get them. And all they have to do is look next door to see how it works.

"We use them everyday; we've had them so long they've become part of our uniform," said Admin Sgt. Randall Todd Huff of the American Fork Police Department.

American Fork police were the first in the state to wear body cameras. Officials with the department said after they implemented "Vid Mics" in 2007, it became easier to solve cases.

"There's always two sides to a story, and as soon as you play a Vid Mic it short-circuits a lot of problems: The Vid Mics tell the truth," Huff said.

And now the Utah County Sheriff's Office wants more than 100 body cameras of their own. The cameras cost $200 to 400 each, but Utah County deputies said they hope they will save time and money in the long run.

"It's protection for the public, it's protection for the deputies and the officers who are using this technology, and it makes it a lot easier to help explain something that happened," said Sgt. Spencer Cannon of the Utah County Sheriff's Department.

But some say before police departments get the cameras, it's critical to establish procedures first.

"To us, the most important thing is that when they start using body cams there is a policy in place that clearly sets out rules that don't make the body cams a tool alone for police officers to use for investigations, but also a tool that protects the rights of the people the police are interacting with," said John Mejia, Legal Director at ACLU.

The sheriff's department says they agree and plan to use the recordings for transparency. Utah County hopes to have the budget for the body cameras in 2015.