School resource deputies will be among first in Charlotte County to receive body cameras

Published: August 9, 2021 10:39 AM EDT
Updated: August 10, 2021 6:57 AM EDT

Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell has announced that the first wave of CCSO deputies will receive Axon body-worn cameras just in time for the first day of school.

Beginning Tuesday, all 25 members of the juvenile unit will be equipped with the cameras, according to a CCSO blog post, including 20 school resource deputies. Prior to this roll-out, Charlotte County says juvenile unit deputies were extensively trained on the equipment, as well as the policies and procedures governing their use.

This means students and updates will have new technology for the new school year. Corey Mason can’t wait to get back into learning at Deep Creek Elementary School in Port Charlotte.

“Play with my new friends. And that really that much just learning new things at school,” Mason said. His new friends and the new supplies he’ll get to break open are all part of the fun.

School resource officers are getting new equipment as well.

Deputies will continue to be trained in all functionalities of the cameras, including the phone apps that they will use to ease their workflow and help with photo and video evidence collection as well as help with their report writing. They will be trained on how to access their videos from storage and shown features within the system that allow them to build case folders and share the information with the State’s Attorney’s Office or other agencies.

John Waterhouse is a Lieutenant with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. “Sheriff want to make sure that they got the training. And so they were ready to go when school started.,” Lt. Waterhouse said.

Utilizing Axon technology, it will be easier than ever for deputies to collect and manage evidence submitted by the community, as it will be able to invite individual witnesses – or the entire community – to submit photos and videos of an incident directly to our agency.

Sheriff Prummell expects all personnel will be fully equipped and trained by the end of 2021, according to the blog post.

They will become the first deputies to wear the technology. Waterhouse is also the supervisor of SROs in Charlotte County. He says the cameras will always be on but will not always be recording.

Deputies are supposed to start rolling once they’re called to respond to an incident. Jane Mason is Corey’s mom. “I think the more resources these resource officers have is better. And for the school system,” said Jane.

These cameras also come with GPS tracking in case backup is called for.

Students’ faces will be blurred in the footage if they aren’t involved in the case.

Hopefully, this means SROs will be better prepared to protect students like Corey. “That’s happy and I can’t wait to play with my new friends I meet,” Corey said.

The full cost of implementation including equipment and storage was negotiated as a 5-year contract. This amount was included in the Sheriff’s budget proposal and approved by the Board of County Commissioners.

Yearly cost:

  • Year 1: $1.462,301.90
  • Year 2: $1,451,940
  • Years 3 – 5: $1,268,340

The sheriff’s office hopes that all deputies will be trained to use the cameras by the end of 2021.