By Chris Mays email@example.com NEWFANE - The Windham County Sheriff's Office will be hitting the record button soon, once deputies start wearing body cameras. "I felt it's a good idea," Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark said. "There's certainly some things to be concerned about, some privacy issues that we'll have to address through policy." Cameras in police cruisers have already been in use for more than 20 years, Clark said, arguing that there's not much difference between the technology being carried in vehicles versus on the person. He called the cruiser cams "a very valuable tool." The idea for body cameras started getting kicked around the office about a year ago. "It's potentially a very useful tool," Clark said. "But then it became a question of the money." Windham County Side Judge Patricia Duff recently met with the sheriff's office to talk county budgeting and the cameras were approved. Clark said the equipment falls within "statutory allowances." Vendors have until Dec. 10 to submit proposals for the cameras. The price of one is around $1,000, according to emergencymgmt.com, but the digital storage of the files has been the real cost challenge for departments. "We believe we'll be able to purchase somewhere between 20 and 30 cameras," said Clark. He acknowledged there have been incidents where the cameras would have been helpful for gaining insight into the perspective of one of his deputies. The sheriff's office will need to prepare with training and policy on the devices. "They do come with some work on our end," Clark said, referring specifically to storage and managing records. "I have some of my staff members working on the policy. Once the bids come in, we'll review those. My hope is once we get them in and get them ordered, we have them on the road by mid January or Feb. 1 the latest." Policy might look at what events should be recorded and which should not, and how long videos will be kept on file. The International Association of Chiefs of Police has policy "we'll take a look at," Clark said, and the Windham County State's Attorney's Office is being asked to assist with training about people's rights and state laws. Once selected, the vendor is expected to provide instruction on the devices. So far, Clark said he hasn't had any resistance from his staff. "They've been asking for them for a while," he said. "There's been no pushback." The WCSO has 34 deputies, 16 of which work full-time. As body-camera policy is developed, Clark said, "We'll stipulate who needs to wear them and when." In effect The Dover Police Department has made use of the body cameras for about four years. Footage from cruisers and body cameras are downloaded on to the same computer system. "Instead of paying some company to store it on some cloud, we have it so that all the material is downloaded here," said Dover Police Chief Randy Johnson. Every patrol officer in Dover has a body camera and there's an extra one. Johnson said about 90 percent of the costs for the cameras were covered by a grant, which also brought in new cruiser cameras. Dover's body cameras cost about $500 each. Officers use them when they're out on a call or conducting interviews. Johnson said the cameras allow officers to continue talking with someone without having to stop and take notes and officers can be less distracted while on the side of the road, helping to increase their safety. Then there's accountability. "I've had an incident where I had a citizen complaint about an officer so I actually reviewed the video and the officer acted very professional and polite," Johnson said. "When I showed the video to the citizen, they kind of backed down and retracted." Body cameras are a valuable tool, Johnson told the Reformer. He said a couple of Dover officers were hesitant about using the cameras at first but have since changed their minds. "It can be there to protect both the public and the officer and the agency of the town," Johnson said. "It's also like real-time evidence gathering, right there and then. It can be used while you're at the scene and it can help with the prosecution of a case." Dover adopted body-camera policy developed by the IACP. But Johnson noted that thes Vermont Legislature's looking at adopting a statewide policy on the cameras. He said the cameras have been nothing but an asset for his department. Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.