Augusta County Board of Supervisors Votes for Body Cameras in Preliminary Budget Approval
Written by: Sam Orlando
AUGUSTA COUNTY, VA - In a major victory for local activists, the Sheriff, and his deputies, the Augusta County Board of Supervisors voted 4-2 in favor of including body cameras for deputies in their preliminary budget. The vote, taken during a work session, comes after significant efforts by local civil rights organizations to increase transparency and trust between law enforcement and the community, and on the heels of the Sheriff renewing his request for body cameras, and identifying a camera system he wanted the County to use.
Chanda McGuffin, CFO and Co-Founder of Rise, a Waynesboro-based civil rights organization, confirmed the news, saying, "I was contacted by Dr. Seaton after the vote came in that we had won the vote 4-2, but public hearing on the matter is April 12, with the final vote on April 26. The people need to show up on April 12th, especially for public comment."
The fight for body cameras has been a priority for Rise and other activist groups, who have faced intense pressure and opposition. "The fight was important for transparency and building trust between the community and its officers. We cannot turn a blind eye to injustices occurring anywhere in our midst. The people made it a priority for us by continually calling us when citizens had been negatively impacted in law enforcement encounters," McGuffin explained.
Antwohn Suiter, the President of Black Lives Matter Shenandoah Valley, expressed relief at the decision, saying, "It's quite relieving to know that we don't have to express our grievances against the Augusta County Sheriff's Office when it comes to the importance of the need for body and dash cams in Augusta County and on its deputies for transparency and security for the community!"
Suiter added, "I encourage all of the residents and community members to vote and support body and dash cameras on all Augusta County's deputies when in contact with citizens."
McGuffin also emphasized the importance of community involvement in bringing about change, stating that people seeking change "MUST be proactive. Run for local office or volunteer on a candidate's campaign that carries your same values. You can no longer sit in your houses waiting for someone else to do the work. That someone else is you!"
With the public hearing scheduled for April 12 and the final vote on April 26, local residents are encouraged to attend and voice their opinions on the inclusion of body cameras in the Augusta County budget. The decision represents a significant step towards increased transparency and trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.