IN DEPTH: On-board cameras and assistants: who records?

ALLEGAN COUNTY, Mich. — The investigation is ongoing after a fatal shooting by an Allegan County deputy. The deputy did not have a body camera or dash cam in his vehicle.

On Monday, FOX 17 reached out to every Lower Peninsula Sheriff’s Department with a question: Are officers equipped with body cameras or dash cams? The vast majority of them are.

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From Ionia County to Gratiot County to Almost Isle County, sheriff’s deputies are recording with both body-worn cameras and dash cams.

Wayne County Sheriff’s Deputies have dash cameras, but no body cameras. The same goes for Lake County, one of Michigan’s poorest counties. Lake County also has a grant application for body cameras, but all of their deputies have cameras in their vehicles and wear microphones.

Rural counties such as Iosco or Sanilac County do not register at all. However, the populations of these entire counties are roughly the size of small towns in Michigan.

Large counties that do not equip deputies with body cameras or dash cams include two in western Michigan.

Ottawa County Sheriff’s Deputies are not equipped with recording devices. However, they got the money to start buying body cameras in May 2021. Still, the rollout process is slow.

Allegan County deputies are also not registered at all. However, in January 2022, they received the money to start purchasing body cameras. Most MPs still don’t have cameras.

Allegan Co Sheriff's Department

FOX 17

“Dashcam video is not required by law. But the fact is that it makes it easier to understand what really happened in an encounter,” said Kalamazoo attorney Randall Levine.

The Allegan County deputy who shot 22-year-old Joseph Nagle Thursday, June 16, was not equipped with any type of camera.

Joseph Nagle

Family photo

The MP has since been placed on administrative leave and suffered minor injuries.

But the chances of a shooting involving a county-level officer going unrecorded aren’t all that rare.

Dash Cams and Assistants: Who’s Recording?

Based on questions posed by FOX 17 and publicly available information, Ottawa, Allegan and Branch counties do not register any MPs. All three have plans to get body cameras for officers.

Other major sheriff’s departments that do not have body cameras or dash cams include Shiawassee County and Genesee County. Genesee County intends to deploy body cameras and dash cams after securing funding in 2021. Deputies in neighboring Midland County have already outfitted their deputies with body cameras and dash cams .

Lawyers say that, although not mandatory, recordings are now part of the public expectation.

“He serves the public. To find out what really happened in that encounter, and there’s no better way to preserve it than a camera that captures it,” Levine said.

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