SHERIDAN — Sheridan Police Department leadership anticipates implementation of body-worn cameras pending final review of the policy and continued research at two other departments.
Sheridan County Sheriff Allen Thompson and The Sheridan Press joined SPD leadership in a policy review Thursday intended for multiple stakeholders. SPD plans to share the policy on its website for the community to review and give feedback.
“We’ll reach out again and make sure everybody read whatever we sent out,” SPD Chief Rich Adriaens said.
Adriaens said he will present updated policy review information and more about the department’s final choice for cameras and software at Sheridan City Council’s study session April 9 and officially at the regular meeting April 16. Even with acceptance by the department and city council, full implementation of the body-worn cameras for officers will start around the end of May or beginning of June.
In the months leading to implementation, the department will prepare as best it can before using the equipment and retaining footage.
Sgt. Danny Keller and administrative services manager Jenifer Shassetz will attend a training on the weekend of March 27 in Washington D.C. The trip will also include an additional policy review.
“If anything’s been run through the ringer very good, [the policy] has,” Adriaens said.
After sending stakeholders a draft of the policy, Shassetz said a draft went to a training and technical assistance group that included a chief of police out of Idaho for preliminary review. The group had a few minor questions and forwarded it to the Department of Justice for two additional reviews. To pass through the DOJ, the policy must receive a score of 80 or higher. SPD’s body-worn camera policy passed through the TTA with a 96.
April 3, members of SPD staff will attend a webinar on how to manage the public’s expectation for body-worn cameras. Adriaens emphasized the need for community members to understand the purpose of body-worn camera footage.
“This is one piece of evidence,” Adriaens said. “This is not all of it.”
Adriaens said sometimes people grab onto the most controversial portion of something that often doesn’t help. Police instead weigh all evidence in a case to keep it fair.
While the body-worn cameras tested by SPD so far have shown much improvement in video quality in comparison to dash cameras, leadership said the video footage still doesn’t replace what can be seen by a trained, human eye.
Thompson, who would like to implement body-worn cameras in the future, anticipates seeing how everything works out once SPD officers begin using the equipment.
Community members will be able to review the policy draft online at sheridanpolice.com and provide feedback. Citizens are also welcome to attend city council meetings where Adriaens will present the most up-to-date information regarding SPD’s equipment choice and a more specific timeline on its usage.