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DIGGING DEEPER: Pima County Sherriff Nanos asking for body cams

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Transparency is the name of the game. Pima County Sheriff's Department said it needs hundreds of body cams to help that happen.

PCSD will be submitting a request to the Board of Supervisors for 400 to 450 body-worn cameras and tasers.

Sheriff Chris Nanos will go before the Supervisors on May 11 with a request of $1.6 million asking for the equipment.

"We are the only agency in Pima County that does not have it," the sheriff said. "So, it's time.  I've been working with the Board of Supervisors, Mr. Huckelberry and they agree."

He said on Jan. 1, he submitted the proposal for the bodyworn cameras.

But it was the April 11 incident in Minnesota that involved 20-year-old Daunte Wright that pushed him to ask for new tasers. 

Wright was an African American man who was fatally shot by officer Kimberly Potter during a traffic stop that had him asking for new tasers. Potter who resigned claimed she mistakenly reached for her weapon instead of her taser.  

Currently, the tasers deputies carry in Pima County are black. They are the same color as their duty weapon. In addition, the tasers are over a decade old.

"We're going to ask Taser to replace those with bright yellow tasers so we can avoid that mistake." Sheriff Nanos said.  

In today's world with police reform, both sides of the issue will tell you they want body cams.

Nanos said he readily admits when he was previously in office, he rejected the idea of body worn cameras.

"We now realize everybody has cameras in their hands," he said "It is not just to the benefit of the community but also the deputies."

Deputy James Allerton said it is time for the department to add body-worn cameras.

"We are ready for body-worn cameras," he said. "We're ready to have that extra level of protection and accountability if someone is doing something wrong."

In January, the department had a deputy involved in a shooting that killed 19-year-old Bradley Alexander Lewis.

Lewis reportedly crashed into a deputy's vehicle and then came out of his vehicle with a black object in his hand.

The deputy thought it was a weapon, but it turned out to be a key fob.

The family asked for body cam video.

"The shame is that we didn't have them in place before then," Nanos said.

According to Nanos' plan, both the body-worn cameras and tasers will be leased over 10 years.

Every 30 months, Nanos said, 'They will replace all hardware and software updates that will be included in the 10-year lease."

 If the Board of Supervisors approves the request in early May, deputies will start using the new cameras this fall.

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Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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