Sheriff's office upgrades
in car camera system

Beth Rumsey
Staff Writer

The Ripley County Sheriff’s Office is using the latest technology to ensure the safety of the public as well as its officers. According to Sheriff Tom Grills, the upgrade to digital cameras in the police cars was the number one priority ever since he came into office. “The previous camera system was good, but repairs were difficult because it was old,” he said.

Sheriff Grills spent the past 18-months researching camera systems that would work best for the department. He said the digital cameras have the ability to record images on an SD card which can then be loaded into any computer at the end of the shift. This is especially useful when the server is down due to a power outage or severe weather.

The compact and user friendly system has the ability to record other information such as the time the lights on the police car are turned on; speed of the vehicle; as well as record dialog between the officer and dispatch. The GPS capability allows the officer to record the location of evidence thrown out of a vehicle, according to Grills. This information will correspond with the recorded video.

For those who do get away, still shots can be downloaded to the printer and then passed along to the officers. “Just because you don’t pay today, doesn’t mean you won’t pay later,” said Deputy Randy Holt.

The in car camera system also enhances the integrity of the officers, according to Grills. The cameras also encourage the officers to maintain professionalism, according to Holt. “I’m human," said Holt, “and the cameras help to keep me from getting caught up in a difficult situation.”

The recorded images serve as evidence at trials. The time and date, as well as other information, can be seen by the jury on the video. The video cannot be tampered with, according to Grills. “It won’t replace testimony, only enhance it,” he noted.

The cameras work to de-escalate a situation when someone knows that they are being recorded. Grills noted, “officer, as well as public safety, is priority.”

The camera system has been installed in all of the deputy and reserve deputy vehicles. According to the sheriff, it was paid for with funds from the Home Incarceration Program.

Ripley County Deputy Sgt. Randy Holt shows how the in car camera system can record both sound and video during routine traffic stops to a chase. According to Holt, the rearview mirrors acts as a screen, yet does not distract the officer while drving. The system has the capability to record activity in the rear of the vehicle as well.