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Even by governmental standards, $50,000 is a hefty investment, but in the long term the amount Sheriff Mark Gorbett is seeking to extend the time archival videos taken at the Bartholomew County Jail are retained is not only cheap but an extremely wise move in protecting county taxpayers.
Gorbett has asked the Bartholomew County Council for an appropriation of the $50,000 — which would augment another $60,000 that he already has on hand — to give the department the capacity to retain video taken by the jail’s 204 cameras for a period of nine to 12 months.
There are some very practical reasons for such a step, the primary one being that the video footage can be used to document incidents at the jail, some of which might lead to lawsuits against the county.
The system that is in place has already demonstrated the wisdom of such a plan. Accusations made last year about police handling of an incident at the jail in 2012 were refuted when video images showed that officials had acted properly, negating the threat of a lawsuit.
An extended life for the video system also can provide authorities with more material that could be used in investigating and prosecuting illegal activities taking place at the jail.
While inmates might take exception to a video diary of their activities behind bars, the system also affords them a measure of assurance that improper handling of situations by authorities is also being recorded.
On another level, however, this step would be an important element in providing transparency about operations and activities in a public facility. It can be an important factor in ensuring that jail employees and officers follow proper procedures in the commission of their duties.
Just the mere presence of such a recording system and knowledge that images on it will be retained up to a full year is a convincing incentive to behave properly.
The bottom line is that the $50,000 Gorbett is requesting not only can save the county considerably more but assures the public that they are being properly served.
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