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The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office has applied for a U.S. Department of Justice grant that could fund 100 of its deputies with a body camera.

If received, full funding of the grant would allow deputies in the office’s field operations division to carry the cameras.

The sheriff’s office applied for the grant after the Stafford County Board of Supervisors gave its stamp of approval. The grant works as a 50 percent match with local funding from the county. The cost to Stafford is $400,000 a year for five years.

Stafford County Sheriff David Decatur told InsideNoVa that implementing a body-camera program is a vast undertaking. The goal of the program is to achieve a high level of transparency with the community while protecting the rights of citizens and deputies alike, he said.

“…The benefit of having video footage for prosecution, training, internal investigations and complaints is significant,” Decatur said. “Body-worn cameras are a psychological deterrent to misbehavior on both sides of the lens. The benefits exceed the drawbacks associated with the cost and time to manage the program.”

Using the technology in the department’s field operations division would allow for the most immediate and expansive contact with the community served, Decatur said.

Stafford County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman M.C. Morris Moncure said that the department first participated in a successful 90-day pilot program using 15 to 20 body cameras. It allowed the department to test-drive the cameras, she said.

Moncure explained that various vendors make body cameras. The grant is being requested now because the cost went down with vendor competition and the kinks have been worked out as the products have improved.

Market competition between the vendors has resulted in much better technology at a lower cost, she said.

But the undertaking involved many considerations, Moncure said, including manpower, storage and management of the cameras and the effect on cases for the Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney office.

Decatur said that he department should find out by October if it will be assisted in purchasing body cameras with the federal grant money.

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