Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies will wear body cams

The cameras are expected to cost the county about $1 million annually. Public disclosure will be a major expense.

EVERETT — All Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies will begin wearing body cameras in 2022.

On Thursday, the sheriff’s office launched a six-week test in which 12 deputies will wear several types of cameras, sheriff’s office spokesperson Courtney O’Keefe said.

At the end of the trial, the sheriff’s office plans to choose one of three models, eventually outfitting every deputy in the county with a camera.

The county plans to purchase the cameras in 2022. The sheriff’s office is requesting $1 million from the county’s 2022 budget to start the program.

It will take at least a year to equip deputies and set up the software, O’Keefe said.

Maintaining the new gear will cost the county about $1 million annually.

The sheriff’s office is also asking the county for funding to hire three more employees as part of the program. One technical support position and two public disclosure positions will be created.

Kent Patton, a spokesperson for the Snohomish County Executive’s Office, said public disclosure will be the most expensive part of of the rollout.

“There’s so much volume — audio, video — that needs to be stored,” Patton said. “There also need to be people to manage that data and pull from it to fulfill public records requests.”

Last year, county Executive Dave Somers announced a social justice reform proposal that would require all county law enforcement officers to wear a body camera. Initially, the proposal was met with frustration from other county officials, who felt they were not included in drafting the terms. Sheriff Adam Fortney said in October that he supported body-worn cameras as “an additional layer of transparency.”

A year later, Patton said, county leaders are on board with the camera plan.

“There’s will at all levels to make it happen,” Patton said. “Now it’s just a question how quickly the pilot program will be completed, and where the funding will come from.”

In late 2020, the Everett City Council approved a contract to equip the city’s police department with 150 body-worn cameras, at a cost of $1.46 million over five years.

Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; edennis@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterellen

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