Jefferson County W.Va. sheriff accepts grant to buy in-car cameras

June 03, 2011

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Jefferson County Sheriff Bobby Shirley was happy Thursday to accept a $23,000 grant to buy more in-car cameras that record what motorists do when pulled over by deputies.

In addition to providing a safer environment for one of a deputy's more dangerous duties, the traffic stop, Shirley said the cameras also "protect us from false allegations."

The cameras show the deputy's actions as well as the motorist during a traffic stop.

"We have nothing to hide," Shirley said.

The cameras are activated when the cruiser's emergency lights come on, he said.

They are particularly useful in court.

"They support the officer's testimony," Shirley said.

The cameras can be turned on whether the emergency lights are on or off, usually when following a suspected drunken driver. They show erratic driving, which can prove probable cause in such cases, Shirley said.

The cameras record audio as well as video, allowing a deputy to hear conversations in a vehicle he is pulling over.

Shirley said the department has 45 vehicles, including 27 deputy assigned cruisers, some reserve cruisers and eight undercover vehicles.

All the cruisers are equipped with cameras.

Thursday's check will pay to replace older cameras.

— Richard F. Belisle

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