Robeson County Sheriff’s Office introduces body cameras, VIPER system

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 7:28 PM EDT
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ROBESON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office began a new era. The county invested nearly $1 million into two critical pieces of technology.

The Sheriff’s Office’s VIPER Communication system officially went on line.

The $750,000 system completely changes the way first responders interact.

Robeson County 911 Center director Chad Deese said the system links dispatchers from across the state using a single system.

He said the Viper will make it easier for first responders to communicate with other agencies in and outside the county.

“Before we wouldn’t have had the radio channels programmed into our system, but now within 20 to 25 seconds we can quickly add the channel to our console and be able to transmit,” Deese said.

Sheriff Burnis Wilkins also purchased 75 cameras using money from the North Carolina Controlled Substance Tax penalties.

Wilkins said bringing body cameras to the sheriff’s office has long been one of his main priorities.

He said they’ll provide a new level of accountability for his deputies and the people they serve.

“Even though today was the first official day deputies had to begin wearing the body cameras, some deputies started wearing them this weekend and we actually had an officer involved shooting this weekend where two cameras were very instrumental in us seeing what happened live,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins said deputies are unable to manipulate the body cam footage.

All video will be automatically uploaded to a cloud server where the command staff will review the footage on a regular basis.

“We’ll follow all state laws when it comes to releasing the footage. Transparency is what it’s all about with this agency and I think anyone who knows me or follows us on social media knows I’m transparent. If we’re in the wrong we’re in the wrong. If we’re in the right, I’ll back my deputies 100%,” Wilkins said.

Sheriff Wilkins said in the future they’re planning to buy 15 more cameras for corrections officers.

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