Members of the Garfield County Sheriff's Office display the new body-worn cameras in front of the sheriff's office in Glenwood Springs.

Body-worn cameras now standard for the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office

Sept. 29, 2022

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office has been researching body worn cameras for our deputies for over a year. This research included not only carefully examining several of the more popular systems on the market that are actively being used by other agencies but also tracking and monitoring the improvements in body-worn camera technology that has developed over the last few years.

Sheriff Lou Vallario decided early on that we would not wait to implement this program in Garfield County until July of 2023, when body cameras are mandated to be worn by law enforcement officers in the State of Colorado. His decision was to be pro-active and look ahead to find the best overall system that would fit our current needs and grow with the organization, the changing needs of the Office and to begin training once a system was decided on. We needed a system that not only could be switched on by the wearer when needed but would automatically be switched on if different key trigger points occurred, allowing the Deputy to perform his or her job without stopping to activate their camera.

We selected Axon as our preferred provider. Approximately three months ago several of our deputies began wearing the body cameras and testing their performance under a variety of circumstances. After a great deal of research and field-testing, we were comfortable with initiating full use of the system.

On October 1, 2022, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office will require all patrol deputies and all investigators to wear body cameras when they are actively on duty. Body cameras will be provided for transport Deputies and will be used in the Jail.

The Axon system allows “witness” citizens who have digital evidence such as screen shots and videos to provide their evidence via a link provided by an investigator or deputy so that all evidence is assimilated into one package. Axon archives the accumulated evidence for easy retrieval and examination when needed. The cameras will not replace the standard written reports required of the deputies on scene but will assist them while writing their reports.

“The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office will provide authorized members of the agency with body-worn camera (BWC) recording devices to capture both the audio and video of contacts between our members and the public,” said Sheriff Vallario of the policy. “The use of BWC recording devices is intended to enhance the mission of the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office by accurately capturing contacts between members and the public.”

Body cameras have been in use by many departments for nearly a decade. The past ten years have provided remarkable insight as to what is required, in the field, of body camera recording devices. Technological advances in the overall systems have made this a valuable resource for the public and a necessary as well as useful tool for law enforcement.

The Pew Research Center showed that 93 percent of the public favor the use of BWC recording devices. Correspondingly, it was reported in a Police 1 “State of the Industry Survey,” 82 percent of officers want to wear them on the job. The BWC has come of age in a day when body-worn cameras will become essentially universal.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the residents of Garfield County as well as the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners for their support of this project and their willingness to provide the funds necessary to make this requirement a reality.