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Fatal shooting of wanted York County man shows benefits of police body cameras

Posted at 7:27 PM, Jun 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-26 19:27:31-04

York County, Va. - Body cameras give an unbiased view of what law enforcement goes through every day.

That’s how the deputies at the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office feel. They say what happened this week when a deputy shot and killed an armed and wanted felon, is a prime example of that.

“I’ve seen the cameras be nothing but positive for our deputies,” says deputy Eric Hart.

Body cameras are now a vital asset to their every day job.

Every York-Poquoson patrol officer and School Resource Officer is required to wear one – a policy that started in November.

“Just like we put on our gun, we put on our body cameras every day,” Hart says.

For Deputy Hart, it’s just another part of his uniform.

“After a while, it just becomes instinct,” he says.

Any time you come in contact with a deputy, they will be wearing a body camera. They simply swipe down and everything the deputy sees is recorded.

All recordings are uploaded back at the Sheriff’s Office and saved into their system. How long they’re saved depends on the situation.

“So if we accidentally flip the camera, it may stay up there for 15 days or so and then it disappears.,” he says. “Some of them can’t even be deleted. Like the incident the other day, it probably will never be deleted.”

Cell phone video recorded after the fatal shooting of Damien Harrell also shows the same deputy using a Taser on a man who refused to get on the ground. Body cameras recorded that incident as well.

“It was surreal. It’s a great training tool. It showed that the deputies did what their training taught them to do in a situation like that. It makes you think we could really happen out there,” Deputy Hart says.

Exactly what happens every day is recorded to not only keep you accountable, but also the deputies.

“It shows what it can do to help you. When you actually need it, it’s there. It’s pretty much a second officer, unbiased second officer there for you.”

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Deputy shoots, kills armed and wanted suspect in York Co.