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Sheriff’s office purchases 20 body cameras

The Covington County Sheriff’s office recently purchased 20 body cameras for the department.

Sheriff Dennis Meeks said that gives every officer a body camera.

Covington County Sheriff’s Deputy David Hamby wears one of the new body cameras Thursday. This is one of 20 purchased out of law enforcement funds.

Covington County Sheriff’s Deputy David Hamby wears one of the new body cameras Thursday. This is one of 20 purchased out of law enforcement funds.

“With the environment we are in today, there are situations – and all situations have two sides to each story,” Meek said. “These days everybody is recording and law enforcement has been under attack for what seems like the last two to three years, and not all of those allegations are unfounded. We wanted to equip our officers with body cameras for our protection and for our citizens’ protection. We felt like it was time we put body cameras on our department.”

Chief Deputy David Anderson said the department spent in excess of $18,000 on the cameras.

“We purchased 20 total,” he said. “We have 19 officers. So, we put them on all of our patrol, all four school resource officers and two task force agents and kept one for spare.”

Meeks said it was for those who have the majority of interaction in the county.

Anderson said they tested out two different cameras before going with the Watchguard video camera.

“We felt it was the best for the environment we work in,” he said.

Anderson said they took a policy from another agency and tweaked it to fit Covington County.

“Every officer was given a copy and it details the dos and don’ts of the camera,” he said. “Our officers are expected to strictly adhere to the policy.”

Meeks said that officers are required to wear the cameras as long as they are on duty and it must be operational anytime they have contact with the public.

The $18,000 was paid for out of the sheriff’s law enforcement fund.

In September, Andalusia Police Department was awarded an $87,244 Department of Justice grant to fund 81 body-worn camera. The grant written by APD Chief Paul Hudson included Opp and the Covington County Sheriff’s Department.

When asked about the funding, Meeks said the department went a different direction.