FOLEY -- The Benton County Sheriff's Office will be the next local law enforcement agency to be equipped with body cameras. Sheriff Troy Heck says he first pitched the idea of getting body cameras to the county commissioners in 2017. After that request was rejected, he resubmitted his request and the commissioners voted to include the cameras in the county's budget for this year.

Heck says it will cost about $40,000 to outfit his patrol staff and sergeants with the 16 cameras. He says storing the video footage was also a big consideration.

The data storage is a fairly expensive chunk of this.  We have the good fortune of having upgraded our server the previous year because we upgraded our in-squad cameras.  So we have some server architecture that's ready and able to start functioning with our body cameras.

Heck says they plan to retain most video footage for at least 180 days or longer.

He says deputies will have some discretion when to turn the cameras on.

The concept here is we want them to capture evidence.  So if they are investigating a crime or if they encounter somebody that they suspect might be engaged in criminal activity, for sure we're going to want to have the body cameras going on then.

Heck says they will likely not be using the cameras when responding to crashes or medical issues.

The 2016 State Legislature re-worked a state law dealing with privacy issues and the use of police cameras which opened the door for more law enforcement agencies to implement the use of body cameras.

He says they are hoping to have the cameras in-house in the next three-to-four weeks, they will then have to have the policy available for public comments and hold a public hearing during a county board meeting before they can start using them.  He's hoping to have them active by this summer.

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