An Axon body camera on a Phoenix police officer. (AP Photo / Ross D. Franklin)

An Axon body camera on a Phoenix police officer. (AP Photo / Ross D. Franklin)

Somers proposes $4 million in body cams for Snohomish County deputies

If passed, the motion will bring 340 body-worn cameras to the sheriff’s office — outfitting many deputies, but not all of them.

EVERETT — The Snohomish County Council will soon decide whether to fund a nearly $4 million body camera contract for the sheriff’s office.

Snohomish County Dave Somers announced a motion Friday asking the council to approve the purchasing agreement between the county and Axon Enterprise, Inc. The motion also asks for an additional $880,000 to buy new Tasers for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

If passed, it will bring 340 body-worn cameras to to the sheriff’s office. The cameras will be outfitted for use by a “sizeable portion” of the department’s field officers, but not all of them right away, Somers told The Daily Herald.

“When I first really proposed this, I wasn’t sure if the sheriff would support it,” Somers said. “But he really does support it. It’s a great tool, and we’re seeing it adopted widely around the country. Body cameras create a neutral record of events. That’s protection both for residents, but also for the sheriff’s deputies and officers.”

Part of the funding package would go to pay technical support and public disclosure positions. Data storage and public disclosure will be the most expensive part of the camera deployment, county spokesperson Kent Patton said.

Last year, the sheriff’s office deployed 12 body cameras for deputies to test out in a six-week trial period.

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

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.

Last year, a state law compelled many police departments around Snohomish County to get body-worn cameras for their officers by 2022.

If the motion passes, it will take a few months before the cameras roll out. Sheriff’s deputies will also need to be trained on how to use them.

“The public has really asked for this,” Somers said. “They want it. But the deputies from the sheriff’s office have also. This will be a win-win for all of us.”

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

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