Another law enforcement agency in Southwest Washington has signaled it could deploy body-worn cameras and car cameras in the future.
Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins recently asked the Clark County Council for roughly $900,000 in the next budget cycle dedicated to the devices. The council intends to hold a work session on the idea Wednesday.
According to Atkins’ proposal, about $500,000 would pay for hardware, data storage and new staff. The remaining $400,000 would pay for ongoing costs. The one-page proposal also estimates the program “fully implemented” would cost around $1 million annually.
Atkins wrote that he was “excited and encouraged” by the proposal. It comes on the heels of the agency’s own involvement in two fatal shootings of Black men since October, Kevin Peterson Jr. and Jenoah Donald.
“Recent events of police use of force, including deadly officer-involved shootings, have led to inquiries from community members in SW Washington about the need for body/vehicle cameras,” Atkins’s proposal reads.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office isn’t alone. The city of Vancouver recently outlined plans to have its police department outfitted with cameras by spring 2022. The city’s program plans for body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras, as well as cameras embedded in the rear seats of patrol cars.
Atkins’ proposal would have to be approved by the Clark County Council.
Councilor Julie Olson said she plans to use the work session Wednesday to learn more about how cameras have worked in other jurisdictions. She said the policies around the program are as important as the staff and hardware itself.
Olson noted that councilors can only approve or reject the budget idea. The sheriff, as an elected official, will probably set policies.
Olson also said the county doesn’t currently have funds for a camera program.
“We have to find that money,” she said.
Sgt. Brent Waddell, a sheriff’s office spokesperson, said Atkins has supported body-worn cameras for some time. In 2019, he assigned an intern to look at how much such a program would cost.
In February, Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik issued a letter urging agencies in Clark County to find a way to start using cameras.