A single body camera worn by a police officer can hold hours of surveillance video.
Using them to crack cases adds to the workload for prosecutors.
That’s why the Scott County Attorney’s Office is hoping to hire someone who has the time to review it.
On Tuesday, Scott County Mike Walton proposed a new ‘investigator’ position.
If approved, that person would primarily review surveillance video, as well as other tasks such as communicating with witnesses.
Between the attorneys having a stack of cases to cover and officers with the full-time job of combating crime, neither have much time to review camera footage. That’s why Walton says an investigator might be the solution.
“You may only need a few minutes out of what may be 20 minutes to a couple hours worth of video and maybe several different officers,” said Walton.
Walton added that oftentimes several types of surveillance video could be reviewed for a single case.
“All very important, very good evidence, but it takes a lot of time to review all that,” he said.
With thousands of cases coming through the Scott County Attorney’s Office each year, their hands are already full.
“So if we’re talking just indictable cases, we do about 5,000 a year, indictable cases,” said Walton. “All of those cases now are going to have some form of video, often several different officers, squad cars, that sort of thing. You may only need a few minutes, out of what could be 20 minutes to a couple hours.”
Walton says without the extra set of hands, the caseload will continue to climb.
“I would like for them to be able to focus more on the legal work and have help in the investigatory work,” he said.
And Scott County Sheriff Tim Lane agrees. He says by lightening the burden on attorneys, they’ll see justice served sooner.
“They’re trained to go into court and to prosecute cases and not necessarily sit there and go through evidence and go through video and things like that,” he said.
At the same time Sheriff Lane has proposed ten new staff members for his department.
Last week Lane requested five new correctional officers, four sheriff’s deputies, and a sex offender registry officer.
On Tuesday he proposed dispersing the positions between himself and the department, saying he could cover four employees if the county could budget for six.
But Lane says he would not compromise on the number of positions he wants to fill.
“I am determined to have all ten employees because I need them that bad,” said Lane. “I would like a 5-year plan for additional deputy sheriffs, so that we can get the staffing level slowly up to where we need it to be.”
With surveillance video here to stay, Walton says it’s time to look at the bigger picture.
“They’re wonderful things but when everybody wanted body cameras and is getting body cameras nobody thought about the other end of it and that is ‘what do you do with all of this material?'” he said.
Which is why Walton is hoping with the stamp of approval from the Scott County Board of Supervisors, they’ll find someone who can help.
Walton has requested $89,125 in funding for the position from the Scott County Board of Supervisors.