Pitt County Sheriff Paula Dance seeks funding for body cameras

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Sheriff Paula Dance is looking to add new equipment to her office. She wants deputies outfitted with body cameras. 

The Sheriff formally requested funds from county commissioners during this week’s annual budget workshop. 

County commissioners are considering all options to purchase the body cams but say it may not be feasible right now.

“It was something that i ran on it something we need for the citizens and for the officers. It’s just the right thing to do for transparency,” said Sheriff Paula Dance.  

Something known as policing the police and holding citizens and law enforcement accoutable, body cameras. The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office is looking to get them. 

Dance requested funding for the cameras during the county’s annual budget workshop Tuesday. 

“The support seemed to have been in the favor of the sheriff’s office in getting those body cameras. I’m hoping they will find a way to make that happen,” Dance said.

It will cost around $544,000 for the cameras and the cloud storage service. 

“Having the ability to know what happened on the scene with our officers when they are involved with the public,” she said. 

The sheriff’s office applied for a grant last year for the body cameras. They were approved, with a 50/50 match from the county but the county did not move forward with the match funding.

“We certainly will do what’s in the best interest of the county and the tax payers in attempting to go after grants again but we have to we have to have a guarantee of appropriation for the match from the county,” said Dance.   

When it comes to complaints from citizens, she said their first request is body camera footage. 

“At this point all I can say is that the county won’t give us body cameras,” she said. 

9 on your side spoke to community members who say the cameras are essential for law enforcement. 

“It’s not like a punishment to the officer or citizen i think it holds both parties accountable i think its time,” said Chance Lynch, Attorney and Pastor of Faith Church in Greenville. 

“Just so it makes it easier for everybody to prove actually what went down in a situation not he said she said,” said Loring Penna-Welch, East Carolina University student.

Pitt County Deputy Manager and Chief Finiancial Officer Brian Barnett said they are looking at ways to make this possible.  

“We understand the need for the body cameras and should consider having them but currently in the recommended budget its not feasible,” said Barnett. “We also think there’s some other avenues that we may pursue as we move forward in the budgeting process.”

“At the end of the day I’m hoping the county will see this is a much needed item i think it will save a lot on lawsuits,” said Dance. 

Pitt County Board of Commissioners has two more workshops scheduled for Thursday and Friday at the County Office Building at 8:30 a.m. The workshops are open to the public. 

After the workshops, the board of commissioners hold a public hearing on Tuesday, June 4 at 7 p.m. in the county commissioners auditorium. 

The commissioners can approve the budget then. They are required to have the budget approved by June 30. 

The public is encouraged to attend these meetings.

More details on the county budget, click here.

Watch the meetings live, here.

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