COPS TV Episode Featured Richland County Sheriff’s Department Catching Criminals
The 28th season of COPS aired Saturday, September 12th, featuring the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
The episode, called “Chase Em Down,” prominently featured officers on duty, keeping Richland County safe. Sheriff Leon Lott says that the show has historically shown the truth of criminal charges and police work through a realistic lens.
“COPS allows you inside to see what takes place and the decisions that deputies have to make, and at times in a split second,” Lott said.
The episode aired at 8 PM Eastern Time on SPIKE TV.
After the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and subsequent riots and other police brutality-related killings across the country, many police forces have suffered shame and intense public scrutiny. In North Charleston, South Carolina, the brutal murder of Walter Scott, committed by former police officer Michael Slager, was caught on a cell phone camera and went viral. The tragic video caused a public outcry in South Carolina, where citizens demanded that police departments across the state wear body cameras to keep officers in check.
Richland County police officers have used body cameras effectively since 2012, and added more in 2014.
“The public gets to see what I see which is a benefit for everyone,” said Lt. Joseph Rowson last year in an interview.
In June this year, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed a body camera bill into law requiring police departments across the state to purchase the devices, and also determined how many officers should wear them and when they should be filming or off.
“Today people will be safer than they were yesterday and everyday it is going to get better,” Haley said. “This is going to strengthen the people of South Carolina. This is going to strengthen law enforcement, and this is going to make sure Walter Scott did not die without us realizing that we have a problem.”
The cameras not only keep citizens safe by policing the police, but allow officers to have back-up evidence outside of their police report if a criminal – such as the criminals featured on the COPS episode – get too out of hand and force becomes necessary.
Because of body cameras, Birmingham, Alabama has seen a 71% drop in citizen complaints, and a 38% drop in excessive force used by police officers, which can lead to police brutality lawsuits. There are no statistics released yet for South Carolina’s law enforcement.
However, the Birmingham police department pointed out the long-term expense of the body cameras. Outfitting officers with 319 cameras cost $180,000, and storage for the video footage costs upwards of $889,000.
“That’s the biggest problem with this system…the cost of the storage,” said Capt. William Brewer, who heads up Birmingham Police Department’s Technology Division. “They do offer unlimited storage, but it’s quite costly — well above $1 million for the package we had looked at.”