Fiscal Court votes to buy body cams for deputies

Published 3:36 pm Monday, March 1, 2021

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Sun Reporter

The Clark County Fiscal Court wanted to buy body-worn cameras for the county sheriff’s deputies, but couldn’t agree on how to pay for them.

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Ultimately, the court voted 5-2 to make the entire $24,765 payment from the Fiscal Court Fund. The court annually makes grants to local non-profit organizations from the fund, though it has retained some funds for other projects.

Magistrate Robert Blanton, who has led the Fiscal Court Fund’s grant process, said the funds for the body cams should come from another source. The fund is restricted to non-profits, public education institutions or charitable projects.

“I assumed we were taking it out of the excess fees or the rainy day fund,” Blanton said.

“I didn’t think it was any secret,” Clark County Judge-Executive Chris Pace said. “We’ve had disagreements with how we use the fund.”

Magistrate Travis Thompson, who works as a Winchester Police officer, suggested using $16,000 in excess fees from the Sheriff’s Office to lessen the amount taken from the fund, but that motion failed on a 5-2 vote.

Magistrate Chris Davis said the IRS definition of charitable purposes include lessening the burden of government and defending human and civil rights.

Pace agreed.

“I certainly think it is (a public purpose),” Pace said.

The purchase was approved with a 5-2 vote. In addition to Blanton, Thompson voted against it, because all the money would come from the Fiscal Court Fund, rather than partially from excess fees.

The City of Winchester and the Winchester Police Department proposed working with the county to provide the cameras for the sheriff’s deputies. Winchester Police Chief Kevin Palmer told the Fiscal Court previously the city already has the licenses and full-time employee to handle the cameras and data. Allowing the Sheriff’s Office to “piggy back” on the city’s licenses would save that expense, as well as hiring a person to maintain the data.

Clark County Sheriff Berl Perdue Jr. told the court the annual licenses, data storage and maintenance would be about $30,000.

The purchase would include two cameras for each of the 13 full-time patrol deputies.

The cameras can be activated manually by the deputies, but also activate automatically with the cruiser’s emergency lights or if it senses a gunshot. It also records 30 seconds prior to being activated.

In other action Thursday, the court:

• Heard a presentation from Andrew King of the Bluegrass Local Workforce Development Area concerning COVID-relaled employment grants.

• Discussed the proposed animal composting program in Clark County

• Approved the promotion of Clark County Fire Department firefighter Dwight Guy to lieutenant.

• Declared a wrecked Road Department vehicle as surplus property.

• Approved an increase of dog adoption fees form $85 to $95 at the Clark County Animal Shelter.

• Approved moving the county’s health saving accounts from WinFirst Bank to Traditional Bank.

• Approved an agreement with the Verna Hills Homeowners Association.

• Voted to purchase a dump truck for the Clark County Road Department.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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