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Snohomish County Sheriff's Office launches body camera test program

On Thursday, September 2nd, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office announced the start of a test program to outfit selected Sheriff’s Office deputies with body worn cameras. Body worn cameras are used to improve transparency and accountability for both law enforcement and the community at large.

From a September 2, 2021, Snohomish County press release.

Today, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office announced the start of a test program to outfit selected Sheriff’s Office deputies with body worn cameras. Body worn cameras are used to improve transparency and accountability for both law enforcement and the community at large.

In the initial test program, 12 body worn cameras will be deployed to Sheriff’s Office deputies.

The initial test program consists of three different body camera vendors that will each supply four test cameras to the Sheriff’s Office.

The cameras will each be tested for a six-week period and will be worn by deputies in the Sheriff’s Office Violent Offender Task Force, Patrol division, and Motors unit.

“I am a strong supporter and advocate for body worn cameras for our deputies. 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,” said Sheriff Adam Fortney.

He went on to say, “Our office has prioritized funding body cameras for every deputy sheriff as a top request in our 2022 budget package and we hope to have them for all of our deputies next year.”

“Body cameras are good for our law enforcement officers and good for our community. 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,” commented Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers.

“As we have seen nationwide, body worn camera footage is essential for transparency and accountability. We know law enforcement cannot succeed at keeping the peace if our community doesn’t have faith in their actions. 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,” Somers added.

“We want to support our Deputies and the members of the public who interact with them, and body cameras are an excellent way to lessen ambiguity and provide a reliable record,” said Snohomish County Councilmember Jared Mead.

He went on to say, “We will continue to find ways to improve our law and justice system for the good of all in our community.”

Throughout the test program, the Sheriff’s Office will familiarize staff with each vendor’s hardware, software and various features to help determine a requirements list which will be used to select a final vendor during the purchasing phase.

Executive Dave Somers, working with the County Council, has committed to expanding the program until every deputy has a body cam. While the cameras themselves are relatively inexpensive, the public records retention and management are a significant on-going cost.

If the Sheriff’s Office receives full funding to equip every deputy sheriff with a body worn camera, purchasing will start next year and it is expected to take at least 12 months to roll out the cameras and software to all areas of the Sheriff’s Office. 

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