The Durham County Sheriff’s Office has for the first time installed cameras in its patrol cars.
The cameras, now present in 31 of the office’s 40 patrol cars, are meant to “advance law enforcement training efforts and promote transparency,” Sheriff Mike Andrews said in a statement.
The devices include two lenses, one facing forward over the hood of the car and one capturing images of the back seat.
Deputies driving with cameras will be outfitted with a microphone, which also can capture audio when the deputy leaves the vehicle. The tiny camera systems record constantly, with up to 40 hours of high-definition storage capacity on board, according to Brian Jones, director of operations and development for the sheriff’s office.
And while the continuously recorded footage is overwritten as it ages, the cameras also permanently record certain events automatically. For example, the cameras begin permanent recordings each time the cars’ sirens are activated, then transmit that footage back to a central location, according to Jones.
“The technology has increased,” Jones said. “I remember swapping tapes out.”
The Sheriff’s Office says it plans to outfit nine more cars in the near future. The county funded the purchase of the initial 31 cameras at a cost of $177,847, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Cameras aren’t new to Triangle law enforcement agencies. The Raleigh Police Department and State Highway Patrol have operated in-car cameras for more than 20 years.
Among others, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office operates cameras in many of its patrol cars, and the Cary and the Durham police departments have cameras in all of their front-line patrol cars.