Washington County deputy bodycams, dashcams get funding: sheriff

The Washington County Sheriff's Office will get a $377,000 grant to obtain the necessary equipment for body cameras for deputies and dashcams for squad cars.

The sheriff's office said the announcement, made Wednesday, comes after nearly a year of collaboration with Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

"Funding this much-needed equipment is an example of bi-partisanship action," said County Executive Josh Schoemann. "Rather than tagging Washington County taxpayers with this expensive but necessary cost, the procurement of this earmark shares the cost with taxpayers nationwide, many of whom travel through and visit our county. I’m very proud of our team and its working relationship with Senator Baldwin, who got the Senate to pass the funding, which was ultimately signed by President Biden."

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According to Washington County Sheriff Martin Schulteis, body cameras bolster accountability – both for officers and the public. Allegations of excessive force, officer misconduct and citizen complaints can be proven, or disproven, after reviewing camera footage and audio, the sheriff's office said.

"Body cameras allow the community to see exactly what the officers are doing and promote transparency with the public we serve," said Schulteis. "Cameras improve both officer performance and civilian conduct; individuals act differently when they know they are being recorded."

The sheriff's office said camera use can also offer a training and development tool for deputies, who can identify ways to improve after reviewing footage.

The sheriff's office said the Senate and House Appropriations Committees will provide agencies with a list of projects funded as Congressionally Directed Spending requests. Agencies then have to complete and submit and application for approval. All equipment will be installed in 2022.