Local sheriff: Our budget can’t afford body cameras

Body cameras may be the next line of defense for deputies, but in Pope County, Illinois, Sheriff Jerry Suits doesn’t have the money for his staff to suit up with them.

"It’s almost a must these days with the reputation of cops," Suits said. 

With a current budget that’s $40,000 less than what it was three years ago, Suits said there’s no wiggle-room for extras. "Right now, it’s just a wish list is all it is," he said. 

On Suit’s wish list are body and dash cameras. None of his vehicles have in-car computers. It’s also something the sheriff wants, but with the Illinois budget stalemate, he knows these purchases won’t happen anytime soon. "We’re kind of used to doing without —making adjustments every day," he said. 

County Commission Chairman Larry Richards said the Forest Service owns about 40 percent of the county. Most, if not all, is rural, which he said could be harder on deputies to respond to an emergency with backup.

"They are out there at night, and it’d be nice to have a body camera or any kind of camera," Richards told Local 6.

Suits knows the dangers. He said the death of KSP Trooper Cameron Ponder highlights the need for more safeguards.

"We’re hurting about that also. It’s close to us," Suits said. "We’re feeling it. People coming to us all the time saying, ‘What do you think Jerry? What’s going to happen here?’"

To read Illinois’ law on the use of body cameras, click here.

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