The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office says 530 body cameras are now on deputies throughout Maricopa County as of Thursday.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio making the announcement following a year of research and development of the new camera program.
Arpaio says the cameras are necessary because of the changing political landscape, a growing distrust of law enforcement across the county, and a 2014 federal court order.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s office faced scrutiny following controversial traffic stops in 2014, and a federal court judge ordered the implementation of dash cameras for MCSO.
Arpaio says he decided not to go with the dash cameras, but took it a step further, and went with body cameras instead.
The cameras reflect the latest technology, says Arpaio, and will be a tool to help his deputies.
“I think it's a good thing have these body cameras,” said Arpaio.
“Mainly to protect our deputy sheriffs who are trying to do a professional and good job,” he added.
The sheriff says this is all about transparency and holding the public and his deputies accountable.
He expects use of force incidents to drop dramatically, and a major decrease of unfounded complaints made by the public against his deputies.
He cites results from similarly sized departments which implemented camera systems.
The sheriff says deputies are going through training to make sure everyone understands how to use them.
He expects every interaction with the public will be recorded, and adds there will be ‘severe’ consequences if the cameras are not rolling.
Eventually, MCSO will have more than 700 cameras on deputies. Some technology needs to be upgraded before the cameras are completed implemented.
The system will cost taxpayers around $860,000 per year to maintain and store the video data.