Body camera policy for Jackson County Sheriff’s Office to take effect Thursday

·2 min read
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press file photo

Following national trends aimed toward heightened transparency in policing, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputies will begin wearing body cameras this week while working in a law enforcement capacity.

The policy, put in place under Sheriff Darryl Forté, is set to take effect at 6 a.m. Thursday. It applies to deputies and supervisors wearing the department uniform during work hours and during off-duty work assignments, such as event security.

In a statement, Forté said he believes the change will allow the sheriff’s office to provide greater protection to the community.

“Body worn cameras alone cannot build trust in law enforcement,” the sheriff said, “but across the country body worn cameras have shown to be a useful tool in strengthening and safeguarding the relationship between Law Enforcement and other segments of the community.”

The sheriff’s department says the body cameras will serve a dual purpose of increased accountability for law enforcement and improved ability to gather evidence during criminal investigations. The agency also plans to use recordings for training.

Deputies have already received instruction on how to use the new equipment, according to the sheriff’s office. Recordings captured by the cameras are to be maintained by the sheriff’s department in compliance with Missouri law.

The policy in Jackson County follows a national trend of equipping police officers with body cameras in response to public pressure for heightened transparency in law enforcement. Other area agencies that have recently put similar measures in place include the Kansas City Police Department, which announced in 2020 a plan to start using the devices.

In a joint statement, Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. commended the sheriff for “significant progress” meant to protect sheriff’s department employees as well as county residents.

“The addition of these body worn cameras will improve the level of accountability and transparency that is key to building trust between law enforcement and our community,” White said.