With the current civil unrest and mistrust of law enforcement, tough conversations are being had throughout the country. On a local level, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office answered multiple community concerns this week in hopes to explain the department’s procedures and offer transparency to help bridge the gap between the civilians they serve and themselves.
The first question asked was about their use of body cameras, the procedures that go along with them, and if their policies may be changing on them. Deputies that are issued a marked vehicle typically have a body camera while deputies who work in areas that are under surveillance like the jail, schools, and courthouse do not.
The deputies that have been issued a body camera are required to record every interaction with citizens during the course of their usual work duties. At the end of their shift, they have to upload the footage with each file containing information such as the date, body-worn camera identifier and assigned officer.
Law enforcement agencies have been able to receive surplus military items from the federal government through a program called the 1033 program. Law enforcement is being called on to “demilitarize.”
The Hall County Sheriff’s Office has participated in the program in the past saying, “The intent of the Sheriff’s Office was not to militarize our deputies, but to obtain useful surplus federal equipment at little to no cost for the agency and therefore the taxpayer.”
Hall County obtained safety equipment for their deputies such as helmets and gas masks from the 1033 program. They have also received an inflatable boat, a spare boat engine, M1 Garand rifles and M16 rifles from the program.
While most of the equipment received is no longer in service, the M1 Garand rifles are used solely by the department’s Honor Guard for use at ceremonies. Also still in service are some helmets used by their Criminal Investigations Unit when they encounter a dangerous on-the-job environment. Any equipment not in use has either been properly disposed of or stored.
Problems facing America, its citizens, and law enforcement are mental health, our law enforcement officer’s response to it, and the de-escalation process. Every deputy at some point in their career will face a situation involving someone who is mentally unhealthy. Hall County was asked what they do to help prepare their deputies to handle these types of situations.
Some of the training that deputies receive from the Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) include De-escalation for Gaining Compliance, Use of Force, Ethics and Professionalism, Fostering Positive Community Relations, Community Policing, Dealing with the Mentally Ill, Crisis Intervention Training, and Defensive Tactics.
“It should be noted that any tactic that restricts breathing is not an authorized restraint and is strictly prohibited in the Policy and Procedures of the Sheriff’s Office, unless deadly force is justified. Tactics that restrict breathing are not taught by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office,” said Derreck Booth, Public Information Officer with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
For more raw questions and answers with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, check back tomorrow for the second part of this discussion.