Pamlico County deputies now wearing body cameras


BAYBORO, Pamlico County - Pamlico County deputies started wearing body cameras on Jan. 30.

Sheriff Chris Davis said they have 14 cameras for the 23 sworn positions in his department. Patrol officers and school resource officers will wear them. They cost $8,000 to buy and another $7,000-$8,000 for software.

Pamlico is now one of five sheriff's departments in the 15 counties NewsChannel 12 covers. They join Beaufort, Duplin, Jones and Martin County's sheriff's departments.

"I think it's all about public trust and if you don't have the trust of your community members you have lost your way at the sheriff's office," Davis said. "And we had some incidences occur a year ago and we couldn't come to a consensus on what happened.

"We believed it was time to have body cameras to tell the truth. There is our side, their side and the cameras that tell the truth. We aren't trying to hide anything, let's get these cameras to show we are on the up and up."

The cameras are the size of a cell phone and have magnets that attach to a sleeve that fits in the deputy's shirt breast pocket. They are low enough to see under the officer's arm when they draw a weapon. The can record up to eight hours of video but are only turned on when conducting a traffic stop or conversation.

When the deputies finish their shift, they download the video into a master computer, which can only be accessed by three people in the department, including the sheriff.

Davis says the body camera's are already paying off.

"We had an incident last week, a lady said our deputy stole her pocket book during a traffic stop search," Davis said. "We were able to go back on the camera and we could see the pocket book as the deputies were walking away from the car. We called her in and showed her the video and she didn't have much to say after that."

Davis says the cameras will also help him evaluate his employees.

"It will expose a bad officer real quick, if they are doing something not right, or they don't know how to talk to people," Davis said. "If they are breaking the law when it comes to traffic stops or civil rights violations, it exposes that person very quickly."