Sheriff’s office upgrades VIPER system and purchases body cameras


Robeson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Levi Bass, left, Sgt. Timmy Ivey and Deputy Mike Vause are working Thursday with a new VIPER radio purchased by the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office.

Courtesy photo | Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins

LUMBERTON – The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office will officially implement two new security upgrades on Monday, including the use of body cameras and new VIPER radios.

Training began earlier this month for body camera operations. The cameras will record footage that will be “downloaded every time a deputy arrives at the sheriff’s office,” according to a prepared statement released by the sheriff’s office on Friday. The images can be used as evidence in court and for training purposes.

Officers continued to train this week, but will officially use the Motorola / WatchGuard 75 body cameras on Monday, according to Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins.

According to the sheriff’s office, the sheriff’s office purchased the body cameras for just over $ 220,000 as part of the NC Controlled Substance Tax penalties. The sheriff’s patrol division, Major Tammy Deese, has established policies regarding the use of the camera.

The cost covers “all the materials for the officer, the patrol car and an iCloud database”. MPs working in the following areas will receive body cameras: Patrol Division, Mandates Division, Child Support Division, Civil Division, Traffic Division, Community Impact Team, Members SWAT team and high school resource officers.

“More cameras will be purchased if funding allows,” according to the sheriff’s office.

“Body cameras will benefit both the officer and the public,” Wilkins said. “I support the use of the body camera because it holds us accountable and is in the interest of transparency, thus providing an additional layer of protection for the men and women in uniform and the public.”

MPs will not record footage of “casual conversations” or breaks, and will not be required to tell the public when recordings are in progress, according to the sheriff’s office.

VIPER radios

“The sheriff’s office will also begin a full transition to the state’s VIPER system on Monday. North Carolina’s Voice Interoperability Plan for Emergency Responders will allow MPs to communicate with all other first responders inside and outside the county and beyond in the event of a large-scale emergency . This is a phased plan with the help of funding from multiple sources, ”Wilkins added.

Wilkins said the sheriff’s office has hundreds of VIPER devices, including portable radios and car radios, to help him integrate into the system.

The sheriff’s office received around 50 radios in February as part of a mandatory upgrade effort to comply with the statewide communications system, said Emily Jones, chief public information officer. from Robeson County to the Robesonian at the time. The radios were among 140 radio systems purchased by the Robeson County government for $ 571,876.22.

The county’s purchase of those radios installed in February was its effort to upgrade its system, which it planned to do in phases, Robeson County manager Kellie Blue told the Robesonian in February.

“The NC VIPER system enables dispatch centers across the state, reliable and efficient communication methods to dispatch emergency personnel when needed,” said Chad Deese, manager of Robeson County 911, in a statement. .

“Interoperability is a serious and urgent public safety issue that seriously compromises the ability of law enforcement, firefighters and other first responders to respond and manage emergency situations,” said Crystal Batton, Director Robeson County 911 Assistant.

Other local agencies with body cameras, VIPER systems

The sheriff’s office joins the Maxton, Fairmont and Red Springs Police Departments, which were already using body cameras.

“We are working on upgrading our body cameras and all of our technology through various partnerships and grant programs,” said Maxton Police Chief Na’Shayla Nelson.

Jon Edwards said the Fairmont Police Department has been using body cameras since taking over the service in 2016.

Cameras were “one of the first purchases I made,” Edwards said.

The Pembroke and Rowland Police Department are investigating the use of body cameras in hopes of purchasing and implementing them in the future, according to the department’s police chiefs.

“We talked about it,” said Edward Locklear, Pembroke Police Chief. “[I]This is something that we plan to work on.

Rowland Police Chief Hubert Graham said the department is “inquiring about some”.

Maxton, Fairmont and Lumberton Police Services have moved to the VIPER system.

Fairmont police have used the system for about four years, according to Edwards.

“[W]We then switched to that system as the primary communication system, ”Edwards said in a statement.

The Lumberton Police Department does not have body cameras, but is awaiting the arrival of VIPER radios, Lumberton Police Captain Terry Parker said on Friday.

The Pembroke Police Department is seeking funding for upgrades to the VIPER system, Locklear said.

Rowland Police Department will seek funding sources for these upgrades next year, according to Graham.

Red Springs Police Chief Brent Adkins has said that in a year or two he hopes to acquire VIPER radios for his department.

“We’re trying to get a subsidy for these,” Adkins said.

“Everything is expensive and, you know, it’s an expensive transition (to the new system),” he said.

Contact Jessica Horne at 910-416-5165 or by email at [email protected]

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