Portage County Sheriff’s Office seeks funding for body cameras

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 4:41 PM CDT
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - The Portage County Sheriff’s Department is applying for a grant to buy body cameras for their deputies and corrections officers.

They need $600,000 to make it a reality.

Portage County Sheriff Mike Lukas said having body cameras will help the department gain more trust from the community.

“With everything that’s been going on through the U.S., I think that transparency is key in regards to law enforcement,” Lukas said.

Body cameras on the chests of law enforcement officers has become a standard piece of equipment and Lukas said for their department, it’s time.

“Well it’s a push, my guys and gals are really excited about getting them because it’s like somebody that can be there with you to tell the story,” Lukas said.

Right now, the department only has in-car cameras and microphones which also need an upgrade. Body cameras for each officer along with updated car cameras would ring up to about $600,000. Lukas said these upgrades are worth the money.

“Usually it’s just a report where the officer, it’s ‘he say she say,’ well now it’s actually footage that you can see and have something to back up what the officer is saying,” he said.

Lukas applied for a community funding grant to cover the costs through Representative Ron Kind’s office. It’s a project the department has been looking into for the last four years.

“We absolutely love ‘em, I think it’s an absolute necessity for law enforcement, 100%,” Plover Chief of Police Dan Ault said.

The Sheriff’s Department got the idea to get body cameras from the Plover Police Department.

They were the first department to have body cameras in Portage County five years ago.

“I think it’s a great tool, I think it relays a level of confidence to the public, it’s open, it’s transparent. When we have an issue or complaint, we can go quickly to the body cameras and we can take a look and probably resolve that issue quickly,” Ault said.

Sheriff Lukas hopes to hear back from Kind’s office about the grant by the end of the month. The body cameras would then be implemented as soon as possible.

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