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NCSO forms Body Worn Camera standard operating procedure
The members of the Body Worn Camera Committee were, back row, from left, Lt. Paul Gunter (NCSO Training Coordinator), Sgt. Michael Cunningham (NCSO OPS), Deputy Brandon Esque (NCSO IT Director), Laura Tate (NCSO Project Manager), Captain Sammy Banks (NCSO Patrol Commander), Pastor David Payne (Church at Covington) and Captain Keith Crum (CID Commander). From row, Newton Co. Asst. District Attorney Melanie Bell, Juvenile Lead Intake Officer Kati Rider (Newton County Juvenile Court), Sgt. Cortney Morrison (NCSO OPS), Brandy Burch (NCSO Grant Administrator), Kathy Herren (Child Welfare Consultant), Haley Giles (NCSO Administrative Coordinator), 1st Lt. Brice Smith (NCSO Detention Commander), Deputy Joey Salers (NCSO BWC Coordinator) amd Sheriff Ezell Brown (Newton County Sheriff).

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) became one of only three agencies in Georgia to receive a Department of Justice Body Worn Camera (BWC) grant last September.

To receive the grant, applicants must establish a strong implementation plan; a long-term storage plan, including the cost of storing data; and a strong training policy before purchasing cameras. As part of the implementation plan and training program the NCSO had to establish a team of stakeholders from outside the agency to participate in the policy development and continue to have input throughout the process. 

The NCSO will host a community forum on body cameras Saturday, Aug. 20 from 10 a.m.-noon at Turner Lake Complex, 6185 Turner Lake Road, Covington.

Throughout the course of this year, the NCSO created a Body Worn Camera Committee consisting of members from all divisions within the agency and a team of stakeholders from outside the agency. Together, they completed and submitted a rough draft policy to the Department of Justice for approval.   The committee was formed based on the guidelines set forth by the Department of Justice, which included entities, according to NCSO Sgt. Michael Cunningham.

Once the policy is approved, it will be published for public viewing on several websites.

“In terms of technology, the body worn camera is one of the most important tools the Newton County Sheriff’s Office can deploy,” Cunningham said. “In an effort to as be transparent as possible, the body worn camera gives our citizens assurance that their deputies’ actions are within NCSO policy, as well as, state and federal guidelines.”

NCSO is continuing to look at cameras made by multiple vendors as well as different types of body worn cameras in order to make the best decision for the community as well as the agency on purchasing.  After several months of research and demonstrations, Sheriff Ezell Brown will deploy the Axon body camera and Flex Point of View camera manufactured by Taser International.

The Uniform Patrol Division, Traffic Unit and Crime Suppression Unit have all been chosen to demonstrate the cameras and continuously provide detailed feedback on practicality, difficulty of usage, mounting options, comfort, and video/audio quality to the committee and team of stakeholders.

Committee members were  Lt. Paul Gunter, NCSO Training Coordinator; Sgt. Michael Cunningham, NCSO Operations; Deputy Brandon Esque, NCSO IT Director; Laura Tate NCSO Project Manager; Captain Sammy Banks NCSO Patrol Commander; Pastor of the Church at Covington David Payne; Captain Keith Crum CID Commander; Newton County Assistant District Attorney Melanie Bell; Juvenile Lead Intake Officer Kati Rider, Newton County Juvenile Court; Sgt. Cortney Morrison NCSO Operations; Brandy Burch NCSO Grant Administrator; Kathy Herren Child Welfare Consultant; Haley Giles NCSO Administrative Coordinator; 1st Lt. Brice Smith NCSO Detention Commander; Deputy Joey Salers NCSO Body Worn Camera Coordinator; Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown; Captain Doug Kitchens NCSO Court Services Commander; Chief Deputy Jerry Carter NCSO Chief Deputy; Newton County Public Defender Anthony Carter; Captain Marty Roberts Sheriff’s Identification Unit Commander; Charm Porter NCSO Personnel Coordinator; Derrick Barnes NCSO Webmaster; Dr. Darrin Wright, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Vice President, Newton County; Kevin Hutton Newton County District Attorney’s Office; and Judge Lisa Manz Newton County Juvenile Court Judge.

Body Worn