MCSO lays out plans for body cameras, but county board raises some interesting questions

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office presented its vision for the initial roll-out of body cameras on Thursday, September 10th. But some Milwaukee County Board supervisors and officials with the Sheriff's Office itself still have some questions.

Texas dashcam/body camera footage

Texas dashcam/body camera footage

Milwaukee County Sheriff's Inspector Edward Bailey says a Texas dashcam video shows the benefit of body cameras. The body camera shows the driver had a gun on the front seat of his vehicle.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office will begin its pilot program later this month with the new technology.16 body cameras will be issued.

Deputies are instructed to record their response to any call for service, any contact with a suspicious person, traffic stops, searches and prisoner transfers. The cameras will not record while officers are on patrol or simply talking to a citizen.

Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office body cameras

Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office body cameras

"The hard one is what do you do for the incident that escalates?" said Bailey.

It's a concern for Supervisor Khalif Rainey, who says the cameras attached to the officer's head should always be recording.

Body camera

Body camera

"And it isn't left to the discretion of an officer who, in the heat of the moment, may inadvertently fail to be operating that camera," said Rainey.

Bailey says recording every minute of every shift would incur huge costs and raise many questions.

"We're already talking about millions of dollars. We might begin talking about tens of millions of dollars. Then there's the review and reaction of those records related to their potential release," said Bailey.

Body camera

Body camera

That's also Supervisor Deanna Alexander's concern. Could people obtain videos of law enforcement officials at someone else's house?

"Who was in the house? What did they have in their house? Was it a nice TV? Does the public have the right then to do an open records request and get that footage?" said Alexander.

Bailey told supervisors those are all questions Sheriff's officials have discussed and will consider when putting together a final body camera policy. This is just for the pilot program that will run for 60 days.

There will be two other 30-day trials with two separate companies.

Bailey says the plan is to begin the first pilot program by the end of September.