Kern County Sheriff Deputies may be closer to wearing body cameras

KCSO asks board of supervisors to approve application for funding grant

BAKERSFIELD, CA - Kern County Sheriff Deputies may be a little closer to wearing body cameras. KCSO is applying to the department of justice for a grant for body cameras, but need the board of supervisors to authorize the funding.
 
if KCSO is given the go ahead to apply for the grant and it's application is accepted, it has to match the funding of the DOJ, essentially pay for half of it. The cost is roughly $285,000. KCSO says the money they'd pay would come from AB 109 programs and wouldn't take any money from the county's general fund. That would cover the cost of 90 body cameras, which KCSO believes could have a major impact in mending relationships with the community.
 
In the age of social media and being able to capture everything on camera, body cameras worn by police are increasingly popular among law enforcement and regularly demanded by the public. In Kern County, the only members of law enforcement that wear body cameras are 17 deputies at the KCSO Wasco substation, 20 deputies that monitor people with ankle monitoring bracelets, and 10 deputies in the downtown jail. 
 
"I'm not under an illusion that a camera tells the entire story, because there's always factors that aren't on camera that are missed, but it certainly is going to be a piece of evidence that will help you follow the trail to the truth, and that's really what we're looking for right, wrong, or indifferent is the truth", said Sheriff Donny Youngblood in 2015. 
 
The Sheriff's Department is looking to expand the use of body cameras through a potential grant- if it gets the money from the DOJ, 90 body cameras will be purchased and worn by deputies in and outside of Bakersfield. But as we've seen in the past, these grants are very competitive. In 2015, the sheriff's department along with several other local agencies were among the 285 law enforcement departments that applied for a body camera funding. No local agencies were selected. 
 
Commander Tyson Davis says if approved, the grant will cover the cost of the cameras and two years worth of data and storage. After the two years, KCSO will be responsible for the cost of storage. The board of supervisors will meet this Tuesday and to decide if they approve matching the funds so KCSO can apply for the grant.
 

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