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Grant presented -- (l-r) Deputy Levi Bruce, Major Shane Padgett, State Senator Steve Gooch, Commission Chair Kris Stancil, Sheriff Donnie Craig, State Rep. Rick Jasperse, Deputy Haley Watts and Sheriff Office Finance Director Miranda McDowell. (Photo by Eli Galligan)

$1.1 million grant will fund body cameras for sheriff’s office

With support from Governor Brian Kemp, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office received a grant of $1.126 million dollars. The grant will be utilized to purchase a new and highly-upgraded system of body and car cameras for the office. 

            “This will be incredibly helpful to us as an agency,” said Pickens County Sheriff Donald Craig.

            The system of new cameras, tag-readers and the collective database are technologically advanced and more reliable than previous surveillance systems used by the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office. The new body cameras will help to hold both law enforcement officers and citizens accountable by providing reliable footage when needed.

            “It holds our officers accountable as well as our community members,” said Pickens Sheriff’s Finance Director  Miranda McDowell, who headed up the grant application process.

            With the many interactions that officers have with civilians, having a reliable record of these scenarios helps avoid unnecessary litigation and protects everyone involved.

            “If someone wants to say I did something wrong, there’s proof,” said one deputy.

            Although the server is not accessible to the public, it can be accessed by all sheriff staff members and by certain entities who can request footage, such as the district attorney’s office.

            Craig complimented the adaptability and the efforts of Pickens County deputies.

            “Our deputies are phenomenal,” said Craig.

            The effort was fully supported by local state legislators, Sen. Steve Gooch  and Rep. Rick Jasperse. Gooch mentioned his continuing “support for local officers.” Jasperse said he hopes the new body cameras will help to highlight the positive efforts of the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office.

            “There is a lot of negative surrounding police officers, especially on social media. People don’t really get to see the positive side of what they’re doing. We need this sort of thing,” Jasperse said.

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