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Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office testing body cameras

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office will test body cameras from three different vendors during a six-week program.

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday some deputies would begin wearing and testing body cameras.

“I am a strong supporter and advocate for body worn cameras for our deputies,” said Sheriff Adam Fortney. “Body cams will provide additional transparency, help build community trust, and will also provide an extra layer of protection for the men and women who are working patrol and serving our community each day.”

Twelve body cameras will be worn by deputies during an initial test program. The sheriff’s office said three different vendors will provide four cameras each. The cameras will be worn during a six-week test program by deputies in the violent offender task force, patrol division and the motors unit.

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During the test program, deputies will look at each vendor’s hardware, software and other features to create a requirements list. The requirements list will then be used to select a body camera vendor. Fortney said he hopes to have a camera for “all of our deputies next year.”

“Body cameras are good for our law enforcement officers and good for our community,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “While not always perfect records of often chaotic events, cameras provide more objective documentation of encounters between law enforcement officers and members of the public. As we have seen nationwide, body worn camera footage is essential for transparency and accountability.”

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Fortney said funding body cameras for every deputy was a “top request in our 2022 budget package.” While body cameras are “relatively inexpensive,” the sheriff’s office said the “public records retention and management are a significant ongoing cost.”

Purchases are expected to begin next year if the sheriff’s office receives full funding. The sheriff’s office said it could take at least 12 months to roll out the body cameras and the accompanying software.

“We know law enforcement cannot succeed at keeping the peace if our community doesn’t have faith in their actions,” said Somers. “Cameras will help build and maintain trust, ensuring there are recordings when encounters are disputed. This is an important step to better serving everyone in our community.”