Benton County Sheriff’s Office request to purchase body cameras advances

BENTONVILLE – Benton County justices of the peace have moved forward with a plan to acquire body cameras for sheriff’s deputies.

Cameras were on the agenda for Tuesday’s finance committee meeting.

Kenneth Paul, a major in the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, told judges the sheriff’s office wanted to add body cameras and also update the cameras that are now in some patrol cars.

The sheriff’s office will purchase 85 body cameras and 60 camera systems for cars and other equipment at a cost of $ 633,000. The cameras will be compatible with the camera systems now found in multiple vehicles.

The body cameras will be paid for with money the county receives from the US bailout, which provides $ 350 billion in federal funds to qualifying state, local, territorial and tribal governments nationwide, according to the county.

The county will receive a total of $ 54 million – $ 27 million over the next two years.

Paul said officials in the sheriff’s office started considering purchasing body cameras a few months ago. Body cameras are needed with the increase in violent crimes the sheriff’s office has dealt with this year, he said.

The sheriff’s office handled 50 sex crimes last year and has already had 61 cases this year, Paul said. The sheriff’s office investigated two homicides last year and investigated six homicides this year.

Paul said body cameras would not only help MPs preserve evidence, but also keep officers safe.

He noted that when Pea Ridge police officer Kevin Apple was killed earlier this year, he was not wearing a body camera and there was no camera in his vehicle.

Paul said the lack of cameras made it more difficult to determine who was driving the car that hit Apple.

Apple, 53, died on June 26 at the White Oak station in Pea Ridge when he was hit by a jeep and dragged about 149 feet, court documents show. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Shawna Cash, the driver of the vehicle that struck Apple, is charged with capital murder, escape, flight, two counts of aggravated assault, leaving the scene of a bodily accident, criminal mischief, obstruction of government operations and reckless driving. Prosecutors are calling for the death penalty.

Elijah Michael Andazola, who was a passenger in the vehicle, is charged with aiding and abetting capital murder and escape.

Justice of the Peace Brian Armas said he supports the request because the cameras will help prosecutors secure convictions.

Paul said 62 or 63 body cameras will go on patrol while some will go to detectives when they conduct interviews and some will be used by prison staff.

Sheriff Shawn Holloway told judges he believes body cameras will help reduce lawsuits because there is no camera coverage in cells. He said 80 to 90% of the lawsuits brought by detainees involved the use of force.

Holloway said there are instances where prison assistants have to physically remove inmates from cells, and the first person through the door could carry a camera and record the incident, which could prevent a prosecution. be brought against the staff.

Justice of the Peace Ken Farmer said he purchased a similar camera system for vehicles when he was police chief in Bella Vista. “I am 100% in favor of this,” he said.

Paul said the request will appear in the sheriff’s office capital request in Budget 2022, but decided to seek the money from federal funds.

Justice of the Peace Joseph Bollinger, who sponsored the request for the cameras, said he had studied the matter and believed the cameras could be purchased with federal money.

County comptroller Brenda Peacock said she would continue to seek grants to help pay for the cameras.

The camera request will now be on the agenda of the Committee of the Whole on October 19.

Officials from the sheriff’s office also presented their 2022 budget to justices of the peace on Tuesday evening.

The 2022 budget for the sheriff’s office is $ 13,252,000, and last year’s budget was $ 11,645,000. The prison budget this year is $ 11,564,000, and next year’s budget is $ 11,645,000.

Meyer Gilbert, the deputy chief of the sheriff’s office, said last year’s budget called for the office to receive 13 new Tahoes.

Gilbert said the office is still waiting to receive 12 of the vehicles.

He said the bureau plans to acquire 15 Tahoes in the 2022 budget. The vehicles cost $ 50,000 each.

Paul told the justices of the peace that there were times when they had to remove vehicles from other services to patrol them.

The county’s 2022 budget is $ 52.4 million, while the 2021 budget was $ 46 million.

The Roads Department presented its budget request at Monday’s meeting. The ministry’s budget this year is $ 13.5 million and the 2022 budget is set at $ 14.1 million.

The ministry is looking to spend $ 2.88 million in next year’s budget to purchase four graders, four dump trucks, single-axle dump, brush unit, bulldozer, compactor and six trucks.

The next budget meeting is Thursday at 6 p.m. in the college courtroom of the Benton County Administrative Building.

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Property tax payment due Friday

The statewide deadline for paying personal and property taxes in 2020 is Friday. Payments can be made to the Benton County Collector online or in person. Payments received by mail must be postmarked by October 15 at the latest.

If residents do not pay their taxes by 11:59 p.m. Friday, there will be a 10% late fee and / or interest.

The Benton County Collector has locations in Bentonville, Gravette, Rogers and Siloam Springs. Visit the collector’s website at bentoncountyar.gov/collector for information on payment options.

The collector’s office at 215 E. Central Ave. will be closed on Monday to process payments.

To pay online, visit https://bentoncountyar.gov/collector/pay-taxes/

For more information, call the county collector’s office at 479-271-1040.

Source: Benton County


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