Monday deadline for SC body camera plans - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Monday deadline for SC body camera plans

BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) -

Monday is the deadline for police in South Carolina to have their body camera policies completed and submitted for review.

Law enforcement agencies were required to come up with guidelines after lawmakers made body cameras mandatory last year. 

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office body camera policy has already been approved by South Carolina’s Law Enforcement Training Council., and the Port Royal Police Department is still waiting to hear back. 

Every law enforcement agency in the state had to submit a plan to the state’s Law Enforcement Training Council. The sheriff’s office and Port Royal police are the only two agencies in Beaufort County that do not yet use the technology, so they had to start from scratch. The policies require police to detail who has to wear the cameras, when they should be on, where the footage is stored, and how long will they keep it.

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office policy states that personnel should activate cameras when they respond to a call where they’d have to investigate, but the policy leaves room for the deputy to decide if the camera should be turned on during sensitive situations – like interviewing witnesses or victims.

The guidelines also says the video recorded by Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office won’t be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Sheriff P.J. Tanner says he fought hard to push this statute because he wants to protect the public’s privacy. 

The Port Royal Police Department will release its guidelines, once it’s approved by the state.

“We’re waiting for final approval from the training council to see if it needs any amendments or any changes or addendums. Once that’s done, we’ve already tested a couple of cameras and we’ve already gotten quotes for cameras, so we’re ready to submit the financial part of it to the training council as well,” said Port Royal Police Department Cpt. John Griffith.

The department is looking to buy about 20 cameras.

“That will give all of our uniform officers a camera plus put a couple of cameras in reserve for maintenance. Uniformed officers that are expected to come in contact with the public, they’re only required to carry them and use them, but we’re trying to outfit the entire staff,” said Cpt. Griffith.

Once police are done with their policies, they do not have to buy the cameras until they have the money to do so. Both agencies are hoping to get funding from the state.

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