Registered Agency Spotlight: Faulkner County Arkansas Sheriff’s Office

fcso body camera patchRegistered Police Department Spotlight: Faulkner County Arkansas Sheriff’s Office

Department Donation Effort Contact: Lt. Chad Wooley

Sheriff: Chief Deputy Matt Rice

Link: Department Website

Number of Officers: 46

Body Camera Goal: 35-40 body cameras

Click here to donate to this department

“Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office like many other agencies is on a strict budget. Our deputies need cameras for their official duties so badly not only for their safety and duties, but for public transparency. Finding funding within our budget is near impossible. Any help with camera donations or grant assistance would be so greatly appreciated by the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office”- Lt. Chad Wooley

Why has your department decided to start a body camera program?
Lt. Wooley: Several years ago when I was on patrol we had in car cameras and body mics. The IT person at the time began having problems and they were taken out of the cars.  Since then we haven’t had any type of cameras other than a couple demo’s from various companies. With the ongoing problems arising between law enforcement and the public we feel the need for body cams not only for our deputies but for the transparency to the public.

How do you believe a body camera program will benefit your officers, department and the community? 
Lt. Wooley: Recently deputies have come to me expressing their concern with not having them.  They wanted to go as far as buying their own for safety and transparency.  It would benefit our department tremendously allowing the deputy to have video footage for court testimony, the ability to review footage to prove or disprove a complaint against a deputy, the ability to review footage for officer safety checks or training.  The recent events around the world have caused a significant change in the way communities view law enforcement and transparency is vital and a key role in keeping the public informed. I believe that having body cameras in a case of an officer involved shooting or any incident involving use of force will give the public a chance to understand what happened and why it took place.  The problem we face as many departments is funding.  The funding just isn’t there to come out and equip 32 patrol deputies, not counting part time, auxiliary officers and criminal investigators with body cameras.

Are there any situations where having body camera video evidence would have made a difference in court cases or complaints against your officers?
Lt. Wooley: Video evidence is hard to beat especially a DWI case.  I’ve had deputies tell me over and over that video footage would have been extremely helpful with their DWI case in court.  We recently had a deputy fired for excessive force against a suspect in a pursuit.  He has now been charged with misdemeanor battery because his actions were caught on body cam from an assisting agency.  I’ve dealt with a few complaints against deputies which was basically their word against the complainants word because I had no way of proving it.  Had there been a body cam in place, maybe it could have been resolved better and easier.

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.?
Lt. Wooley: Currently no.  There was one in affect under the old in car cameras and body mics, but it was under a different sheriff and administration.  The policy would be updated if not totally rewritten.