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Douglas County To Equip Sheriff's Deputies With Body Cameras

Body-worn cameras are becoming as standard issue for police officers as the badge and gun.

Douglas County, in Northern Nevada, is becoming the latest force to acquire body cameras for its sheriff's deputies.

Undersheriff Paul Howell said the county had to invest in the cameras to be compliant with a state law that passed during the last legislative session.

But he also said the cameras are an expectation for law enforcement now.

"They are, I think a natural progression in law enforcement," he said. "In today's day and age, it's become almost a public expectation that you have them, and if you don't, our fear is that someone will start questioning your transparency with the community and your accountability."

He said generally the residents of Douglas County were not asking for body cameras, but the sheriff's office does deal with a lot of tourists and with high profile events at Lake Tahoe, they have received requests in connection with those interactions.

"In order to maintain the level of trust and transparency we currently have with our community, I think any police agency in the United States is going to have to start implementing these or you're going to automatically be questioned why," he said.

Howell acknowledged that Douglas County doesn't have the same crime rate as Reno or Las Vegas, but deputies do have interactions that need to be on record.

The type of interaction will determine how long the footage will be kept. For instance, an arrest may be kept for 10 years but a citation will only be kept for three years.

The deadline for having the body cameras programs up and running is July 1. Howell said the department will be ready for that deadline.

Paul Howell, undersheriff, Douglas County

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)