MONTICELLO – Piatt County Sheriff’s Deputies will soon wear updated Tasers – replacing the current 15-year-old models – and wear body cameras for the first time, thanks to County Council action and funding from the US federal bailout law.
There hasn’t been a huge rush to equip officers with body cameras, as state law doesn’t require it for counties Piatt’s size until 2025.
But Sheriff Mark Vogelzang said it was high time for the new Tasers, electroshock weapons used to temporarily neutralize targets.
He added that their mere presence often does the trick.
“A lot of times there can be a working assistant, and I’ve seen it with my own eyes where mere presence gets compliance. And if you don’t, it’s a tool you can use to reduce injuries to the officers and those we’re trying to detain, ”Vogelzang told the county board in a session. special on December 16.
The sheriff also said liability coverage for the Tasers expires when they turn five.
“The $ 10 million liability insurance policy offered by the Taser is no longer in effect after five years. They’re 15, 16 and Taser can’t stand them anymore, so that’s huge.
Approved by the County Board of Directors at the special meeting, the cost of 16 Tasers will be $ 47,359, purchased from local dealer Axon (formerly Taser) Beck Tech in Urbana.
County board members voted in favor of the purchase before unanimously approving it.
“Like you said, Sheriff, on days or nights when there is only one duty assistant in the county, it’s important to have a working Taser,” said Member Todd Henricks of the county administrative board.
The purchase of 16 body cameras, as well as a new computer to run the necessary video download software, has also been approved. The cost will be $ 56,100, with the pre-Jan. 1 purchase beating what County Administrative Consultant Dustin Harmon called significant price increases.
Vogalzang said the cameras will give direct evidence of what happens during police calls. He added that local domestic violence advocates were eagerly awaiting officers to be equipped with cameras.
“They were very grateful and excited about the potential of this because, as good as the officers are at trying to write this story, when you can see a video of a victim of domestic violence scared, or see the chaos from the scene, a video is just a huge thing for the courts, ”he said.
“A photographic memory becomes difficult when you are in this situation, trying to remember everything. It’s a great tool, ”said Randy Shumard, county board member. “We take care of public safety here.
“It’s something that’s going to be mandated, another one of those unfunded mandates,” County Board Chairman Ray Spencer said.
A criminal justice reform bill enacted in Illinois earlier this year requires all police officers in the state to begin wearing a body camera by January 1, 2025.
The cameras are from WatchGuard, which is the same brand used in the sheriff’s police cars.
The Tasers are expected to be delivered in February. The timeline of the body cameras was not immediately known.
Three offers were obtained on both the Tasers and the body cameras.