Hartsville police in the market for new body cams

Hartsville police in the market for new body cams

HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - Hartsville police officers are in need of more body cameras to ensure every officer has their own.

Hartsville Police Lt. Mark Blair said his 35 sworn officers have to switch out each camera at the end of their shift.

To help fund replacing the aging devices and buy additional ones, Hartsville City Council just passed the grant request of $11,500 from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The city said it will match 50 percent of those funds.

Blair said equipment like body cameras is vitally important in any investigation.

"We've used the body cameras in several internal investigations where people have made claims against officers and turned out in each case to be not what actually happened," Blair said. "So if you do something wrong as an officer it can hang you, but if you do something right and somebody makes a false claim, it can save your career."

He said his goal is for patrol officers and school resource officers to have an assigned camera first.

"The newer ones are made by the same company that manufactures our car video equipment. They run between $450 and $500, depending on the options they come with," Blair said.

Blair added back in 2010, the city applied for a grant for police officers to each have a body camera to help aid in the prosecution of domestic violence.

"They were very cheap and not very reliable.  They didn't hold up very long, but we bought what we could with the money we were given," said Blair.

According to Blair, possible funding for the body cameras could come from private businesses and the school district.

City officials said if the grant is approved, they won't get word until Sept. 30.  The hope is officers will likely receive the new body cameras before the end of this year.

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