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Sheriff Penzone believes body cameras are valuable tool for departments

Sheriff Paul Penzone (KTAR News Photo/Matt Bertram)

PHOENIX – Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone was initially skeptical of the idea of body cameras, but now he sees them as a valuable tool to defend an officer’s actions when they’re called into question and to hold accountable those who act irresponsibly.

“If I have an employee who acts egregiously and it was captured on camera, more frequently than not, as soon as internal affairs starts the investigation that employee will separate from the organization,” Penzone told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Tuesday.

“That gives us the chance to move on from them, for them to find another profession, but the amount of the resources that are saved from being tied up for lengthy periods of time is a considerable benefit for us to allocate resources more appropriately.”

With the use of body cameras, it also gives a glimpse into how the officers react after the incident.

“It showed you law enforcement real time during the tragic event, which is terrible, but it also showed you the impact on deputies, how compassionate they were after the event and trying to get first aid and trying, you know, you could see that they were personally and emotionally affected,” Penzone said.

Protests across the country have called for defunding the police, which would mean moving government funding from law enforcement to community services. Penzone has previously spoken out agains that idea.

On Tuesday, he reaffirmed that stance and said that if funds are removed from law enforcement, it could take away funding for important services like maintaining body cameras for officers.

Penzone said there are multiple layers to handling body camera footage, from having to pay to store video to managing a full department dedicated to reviewing the video. As the head of the organization, Penzone has to make sure the department has resources and services to support officers to make sure they can come back to work after the incident.

“If you take dollars away, I can’t invest in programs to ensure that they are well. It makes it more challenging for them to care for the community,” Penzone said.

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