The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office has increased the agency’s transparency with the public. The county recently invested in 40 state-of-the-art body cameras for deputies.
When Sheriff Tommie Johnson ran for the position, he promised to outfit the agency with body cameras. The new equipment is now part of a deputy's daily routine.
Deputy Louis Gomez patrols the streets in the far eastern section of the county and has been wearing his body camera for close to two weeks now. He said it took a couple days to get used to wearing, but he welcomes the new equipment.
“I think they’re great,” Gomez said. “It’s a good asset for us in patrol.”
All Oklahoma County deputies, warrants officers and investigators wear the Axon Body Cameras. They were chosen first because of their regular contact with the public.
“If they want to complain about something or you, you can use your body camera. You can say here, you can watch it, review it,” Gomez said.
When his body camera is on Gomez's supervisor will be notified so they can watch it remotely from a computer or phone. The camera will turn on automatically if Gomez or another deputy within 100 feet of him draws their gun.
“If it’s a really rapidly evolving situation and we have to draw our weapon, we have a sensor on all of our holsters which will alert the camera that weapon is drawn and it will tell the camera to start rolling,” Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Shawn Shelby said.
The cameras will cost the agency around $70,000 a year, but they said it is worth every penny.
“Everybody on the scene knows they’re being recorded,” Shelby said. “I think it takes the level of professionalism up and even if we’re dealing with people who may be heated, they know the camera is on.”
Soon the emergency lights on patrol cars will be synced to the body cameras. When the lights are activated the deputy’s cameras will turn on.