Ithaca, N.Y. — Tompkins County Sheriff Ken Lansing is working to get each of his investigators and road patrols outfitted with body cameras, which he said could cost about $35,000.
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Lansing voiced his support of police body cameras at a meeting of the Tompkins County Legislature’s public safety committee on Wednesday, according to a press release. Lansing said he became interested in using body cameras after Sheriff William Yessman began using them in Schuyler County.
The price for body cameras ranges from $495 to $1,000 a piece, Lansing said, and he will be seeking grant money to help foot the bill.
“We will find the money because we feel strong enough that this is an important thing that needs to be done,” Lansing said.
Lansing said the body cameras would improve officer safety, but first, a usage policy needs to be developed and approved for the cameras.
Undersheriff Brian Robison said in the press release that storage and retention of video data and procedures for how and when to use cameras need to be addressed in the policy.
Niagara County police started using body cameras three years ago, and have 20 body cameras in service on patrols, according to a Jan. 25 report from The Buffalo News.
Body cameras have also become a topic of discussion at Ithaca College. At a Student Government Association meeting on Monday, Josh Couce, Class of 2015 senator, said he proposed a bill to implement both dash-cams and body cameras for campus police.
Couce said the cameras can be used to protect officers from false allegations or to confirm them if they are true.
“There could be plenty of incidents where students may feel that a police officer treated them wrong,” Couce said. “It can be used as evidence … to ensure that officers are acting appropriately.”
Both his father, who is a police officer, and recent events surrounding the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo. inspired Couce to create the bill, he said. The senate approved the bill and a student committee is now reviewing and researching the proposal, Couce said.
The City of Ithaca is currently working on implementing body cameras for all Ithaca police officers. Mayor Svante Myrick said the policy would be implemented within a few months, according to a previous report from The Ithaca Voice.
Lansing said he will present a draft policy for the April meeting of the public safety committee with a goal of implementing the body camera program this summer.
“Now it just becoming almost a norm, everybody’s starting to look at these,” Lansing said. “It enhances officer safety, number one for me.”