WWSO considers body cams

By on Monday, August 9th, 2021 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

WALLA WALLA – A new state law, signed by Governor Jay Inslee as part of Washington’s police accountability package, has both Walla Walla County Sheriff Mark Crider and the Walla Walla County Board of Commissioners concerned before it goes into effect January 1. House Bill 1223 requires law enforcement to have a video and audio recording of any interrogation that involves either a felony or a juvenile.

While body cameras are not required by law, Crider said if you read HB 1223, having body cameras is the only way to comply with the law.

“If they had come out and said they are required it would have been an unfunded mandate and the state would then have been required to pay for them,” Crider said.

Crider and the county only have a matter of months to come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase the new body cameras and the required software and storage devices. The sheriff told the board of commissioners that his office is looking for ways to pay for the body cameras, including grants.

Crider estimated the body cameras will be a $200,000 investment over the course of five years. That estimate is dependent on which camera systems the WWSO selects.

At the conclusion of Crider’s report, Commissioner Todd Kimball asked Crider if the sheriff’s office would consider working with the Walla Walla Police Department on plans to purchase body cameras. WWPD also doesn’t have body cameras for its officers but is exploring that option.

“That’s a great idea,” Crider said.

He added he thinks it would be a good idea if the county would work not only with the Walla Walla Police Department, but the College Place Police Department too in sharing someone to handle public records requests for body camera footage.

“Kind of split that, not in thirds but according to how many requests we get,” Crider said. “A cost savings and a cost sharing for all of us.”

In March, officers with the College Place Police Department began wearing body cameras. The cost of the five-year contract for the 15 cameras, as well as 15 Tasers that were included, totals $202,354.02. Payments are spread over the life of the contract, which includes redaction software and cloud server storage.

The Walla Walla County Board of Commissioners will discuss the recent workshop it had regarding body cameras for the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office today at 2:30 p.m. The meeting will be in person, or the public can attend online via WebEx. Call 1-408-9388. The access code is 146 784 0290.