Sheriff’s deputies now have body cameras

Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe donated $20K
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Contributed Photo Lt. Kurt Kitzman is fitted for his new body camera by a Vievu representative Tuesday at the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department.

Shawano County sheriff’s deputies Tuesday were issued body cameras for the first time, something Sheriff Adam Bieber had pushed for since taking over the department in January 2015.

“This is an important tool for our deputies as it acts as an independent witness,” Bieber said.

He said the cameras would reduce incidents of citizen complaints and complaints of alleged officer “use of force.”

Body camera video can be used in court and used to interview witnesses, suspects, and complainants, which will help officers get a more complete report, Bieber said.

Bieber said the body cams will not change the way deputies do their jobs, but it does add to the equipment they will carry.

“Deputies will need to familiarize themselves with the camera and get into a habit of turning the camera on per policy,” he said.

Deputies were trained in use of the body cams Tuesday.

“Our goal when we started this process was to have the camera’s issued for the Shawano County Fair. We have met our deadline and we are excited to use the cameras,” he said.

Not all deputies are comfortable using the cameras, but, Bieber said, he believes they will get accustomed to them.

“Some feel body cameras are unnecessary. Some may be concerned that administration may use the video to ‘armchair quarterback’ deputies, which is not the case,” he said. “I know that as the deputies get familiar with the cameras they will grow to appreciate them.”

The Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe donated $20,000 to the county to pay the cost of acquiring the body cameras, which will be affixed to deputy uniforms and videotape their movements.

“I want to thank everyone involved in the process of selecting and purchasing the body cameras,” Bieber said.

The department looked at six vendors before choosing the Vievu body cameras.

“They’ve been in the business for quite some time now,” Bieber said.

“Stockbridge-Munsee Nation really moved our plans forward with their monetary grant of $20,000,” Bieber said. “We worked with the County Board to provide video storage, and Matt Heitpas from the county’s technical support really made this idea a reality. It was a team effort.”

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