Harrison County

Sheriff Peterson got more than cameras for that $450,000 — and guess who paid

This is a BodyWorn smartphone, which is equipped with cameras, WiFi and GPS. The Harrison County Sheriff’s Office bought this system in 2017. Deputies' cameras recorded the deadly shooting of Gulfport teenager Seth William Johnson on Nov. 20, 2017, the sheriff said.
This is a BodyWorn smartphone, which is equipped with cameras, WiFi and GPS. The Harrison County Sheriff’s Office bought this system in 2017. Deputies' cameras recorded the deadly shooting of Gulfport teenager Seth William Johnson on Nov. 20, 2017, the sheriff said.

A Sound Off writer wondered why 68 body cameras for Harrison County deputies cost the Sheriff’s Department more than $450,000 — or roughly 6,600 each.

The short answer is: There is more to a body camera than the camera. Also, the more than $450,000 was paid with drug forfeiture money, so the cameras didn’t cost the taxpayers anything.

A spokesman for Pileum Corp. of Jackson, which sold the cameras through Metrix Solutions, its sister corporation, said there is much more than a camera in the system.

“You are correct that the system is much more than simple body cameras,” Chief Operations Officer Sandy Turnage said in an email. “It is the only next-generation system on the market with a number of advanced capabilities.”

Pileum is a reseller of the camera systems, which are made by Utility Inc., of Decatur, Georgia. Some of the features of the BodyWorn system:

▪ The cameras record high-definition video day or night plus geographic data.

▪ The camera has a battery that will stay charged for an entire shift.

▪ They can charge anywhere there’s electricity.

▪ They connect with in-car WiFi or cellular data and immediately offload the video and other information to cloud storage.

▪ The “durable and stable” mounting system is integrated into the uniform.

▪ It classifies and tags media evidence “on the spot.”

▪ The camera’s automatic triggers can be set up to comply with the department’s policy.

▪ It automatically reports when an officer is down.

In the Harrison County Sheriff Office’s system, the cameras and accessories such as mounts and triggers cost $57,800 — or $850 apiece. The router for the system costs another $4,995. The big-ticket item is the “Unlimited Pro Plan BodyWorn and Communications,” the part of the system that collects, transmits and stores the data and video. That plus the training, technical support and warranty costs $77,520 a year for five years. So, the total for the first year is $140,315, then it’s $77,520 a year after that. After five years, Sheriff Troy Peterson said, the company will give them new cameras.

The Sheriff’s Office is awaiting delivery of the system.

Biloxi bought a similar system, which cost about $400,000 and was also paid for with drug forfeiture money last year. In Gulfport, the City Council approved a deal with Pileum to spend $1,060,000 over five years on a 100-camera system.

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296, @JPaulHampton

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