Lauderdale County, Miss. As an investigation continues into a shooting incident which involved a Lauderdale County deputy last week, Newscenter 11 has learned that body cameras were not working for any of the deputies who were on the scene. However, Sheriff Billy Sollie says dash cameras from patrol cars were working, and that video has been turned over to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations. Meanwhile, he says the body camera problem is widespread.
“Out of 30 something cameras we probably have less than five that are operable right now,” says Sollie.
Since almost February, all patrol deputies with the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s department have had body cameras. However, out of the 32 that were bought, less than 5 are still working. Sheriff Billy Sollie says the problems started roughly two weeks after the purchase.
“They (Digital Ally Inc.) declared that they had technical issues with the cables, and they’ve sent us new cables, but we are continuing to have issues with these cameras,” says Sollie. “We’ve had multiple issues with these cameras either getting too hot, or overheating; the cords disconnecting, or becoming unattached to the recording device. We’ve had difficulties in downloading thevideo to our servers. We have contacted other companies about possibly replacing the cameras that we’re currently using, and we’ve also been in contact with the company that is providing these cameras about a method of returning these cameras and getting a refund.”
Sheriff Sollie says officials from his office even contacted the company which supplies the cameras, Digital Ally, after last week’s shooting incident which involved a deputy. However, as of early Monday, his office had still not received a response from the company.
Newscenter 11 contacted Digital Ally Inc. about the claims. Marketing manager, Heath Bideau, said: “We fully stand behind our products. We’ve been working with the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department regarding any problems. We would absolutely work with them to replace the cameras if that’s needed.”
The total cost for the 32 body cameras that the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department purchased was $26,000. The sheriff’s department used federal grant money and leftover local funds to buy them.
Sheriff Billy Sollie estimates that less than a dozen sheriff departments in Mississippi use body cameras for deputies. Newscenter 11 contacted the Mississippi Sheriff’s Association for the exact number, however, that agency does not have that information available.