Registered Agency Profile: Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office

Wagoner CountyRegistered Agency Profile: Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office

Agency Donation Effort Contact: Deputy Nick Mahoney

Sheriff: Sheriff’s Chris Elliott

Social Media: Facebook and Twitter

Body Camera Goal:  40

Registration Statement: Wagoner County is located in N.E. Oklahoma in the outlaying area of Tulsa. Wagoner County has a population of approximately 88,000 people and is home to Fort Gibson lake, a popular Oklahoma weekend destination. Wagoner County encompasses the City of Wagoner, Coweta, Broken Arrow, Catoosa, Tulsa, Porter and Okay. The Towns of Okay and Porter do not have Police Departments so the Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement services to their communities.   Currently, the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office employees 40 sworn Deputies and approximately 30 civilian employees. The Sheriff’s Office is under the command of Sheriff Chris Elliott who was elected to the office in June, 2016.

Why has your department decided to start a body camera program?
Deputy Mahoney: 
Wagoner County is one of the fastest growing counties in the State of Oklahoma. As our population grows so does our crime rate and interaction with the pubic. However, the Sheriff’s Office budget has not increased by much in the last 10 years. The past administrations did not feel as if cameras in the patrol cars or on the Deputies were important. However, this administration strives for transparency. The deployment of body camera’s would allow for checks and balances for the public, the administration and the employees. Cameras will provide accountability were there was none.

How do you believe a body camera program will benefit your officers, department and the community?
Deputy Mahoney: Accountability, and transparency are among the biggest benefits for any agency no just WCSO. However, WCSO feels that being more transparent to our community and media also allows us to better serve our community. Accountably for Deputies, administration, and violators of crimes is also a huge asset for not only Wagoner County, but law enforcement as a whole.

Are there any situations where having body camera video evidence would have made a difference in court cases or complaints against your officers?
Deputy Mahoney: 
In the past three years, Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office has been involved in four officer involved shootings, and countless situations that would have benefited in the prosecutorial system by the availability of camera video. With video, Deputies can be cleared from complaints faster and more effectively along with accountability and in transparent manner.

Does your department have guidelines for a body camera policy? If so, what would the policy be? When would officers be required to record, etc.?
Deputy Mahoney: 
Currently, Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office does not have a policy on recording as we do not yet have that ability. However, when the Sheriff’s Office obtains body cameras or dash cameras the agency will adopt a policy similar to the suggested policy by the U.S. Department of Justice and one that has been approved by our District Attorney. Any policy would require Deputies to have the camera in the record mode while interacting with the general public in any type of enforcement manner.

What is your body camera goal?
Deputy Mahoney: 
Transparency, accountability, and safety.  The Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office strives to be open, honest, and accountable to our community. WCSO strives to keep it’s Deputies safe and secure while keeping the citizens safe and secure.