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Legislators, Erie County Sheriff's Office battle over body cameras

At the heart of the issue is money and who has control over the body cam video.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — There is a new battle over body cameras for Erie County Sheriff's deputies, and it's between Democratic legislators and the sheriff's office. 

At the heart of the issue is money and who has control over the body cam video.  

A couple of months ago, Erie County legislators approved $600,000 for 100 deputies to get body cameras.

But when that money was approved, it went to the Division of Information and Support Services, not to the sheriff's office.

Lawmakers did this so the county's chief information officer could work with the sheriff's office in getting the body cameras and rolling them out. But now, the sheriff's office says it has concerns about the chain of custody of video evidence. 

And that, if DISS buys the body cameras and has the system, that could consistently be questioned in criminal cases.

"We're not going to risk convictions of bad people because we stored the data in the wrong place. The sheriff does not believe that is the right thing to do," said John Greenan, the chief of administrative services for the Sheriff's Office.

So the sheriff's office is requesting that the legislature transfer those funds to the sheriff's office.

But before doing that Democrats, such as Legislator April Baskin, want the sheriff's office to reveal how much companies in an application process say it will actually cost to implement the body camera program.

"It's an issue of not doing a bunch of work for money that we don't know was going to be transferred. There's a lot of manpower that goes into figuring all these things out," Greenan said. 

This issue has gotten quite political, and we'll have to see what kind of compromise can be reached here. The legislature meets next week and then goes on recess until September.

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