Sumter deputies: Body cameras just as important as guns

Sumter deputies: Body cameras just as important as guns
Sumter County Sheriff Deputies said their new body cameras will be able to categorize serious and minor crimes on their own. (Source: WALB)

AMERICUS, Ga. (WALB) - Sumter County Sheriff’s deputies said with everyone being recorded now, the extra set of eyes from a body camera will tell the true story, so body cameras are as vital guns.

Americus police Officer Nicholas Smarr and Georgia Southwestern State University Officer Jody Smith were killed while responding to a domestic call in 2016.

The Smarr and Smith Foundation believes that law enforcement officers must have the right equipment to do their job, so the non-profit organization donated Axon cameras to the agency, and about 80% of Sumter deputies have the new body cameras.

Sheriff Eric Bryant said their new body cameras will be able to categorize serious and minor crimes on their own.

Sheriff Eric Bryant said body cameras will not only protect them but citizens as well.
Sheriff Eric Bryant said body cameras will not only protect them but citizens as well. (Source: WALB)

An example would be the camera being able to keep footage of something like a shooting for a long period of time, and holding footage of someone having car issues on the side of the road for a shorter period of time.

Deputies said after testing the cameras over the past week, they didn’t notice any issues with them.

Sheriff Bryant said body cameras will not only protect them but citizens as well.

“Whenever an incident occurs and an officer feels like or the citizen feels like the officer done something wrong or didn’t do something right. That gives that citizen another line of video that occurred. At the same time, it protects the officer or gives the officer a second set of eyes to actually what has happened” said Sheriff Bryant.

Smarr and Smith Foundation President Jessi Simmons said they ran a fundraiser and had guns donated in order to get the money for the Axon body cameras.
Smarr and Smith Foundation President Jessi Simmons said they ran a fundraiser and had guns donated in order to get the money for the Axon body cameras. (Source: WALB)

Smarr and Smith Foundation president Jessi Simmons said they continue to support local law enforcement because they don’t want anybody to experience the loss of a loved one especially if they’re protecting people.

Over the years, she said they’ve donated body armor, ballistic shields, and even created scholarships, and Axon body cameras that cost more than $4,000.

Simmons details how they were able to come with the money to get the cameras.

“We had three guns donated by Barons guns of Butler and also a gun donated by winded warriors out of Albany and so we sold raffle tickets and of course our little village rallied and bought a ton of them and four lucky winners got a gun and we were able to provide equipment” said Simmons.

Simmons said they have provided equipment for Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, Americus Police, and GSW security.

She also said they plan on having more donations to give in the near future.

Copyright 2021 WALB. All rights reserved.