In View From the Field: Newton County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office

The Importance of Engaging Stakeholders: Newton County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office



The Newton County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) is the primary law enforcement authority in Newton County, Georgia. Newton County began its body-worn camera (BWC) implementation in 2015 when it received its first BWC Policy and Implementation Program (PIP) grant; Newton County received a second BWC PIP grant in 2017 to expand its BWC program. NCSO has 273 employee positions with 162 sworn officers.  Of the 162 officers, 150 have been outfitted with BWCs, including all officers that are responsible for patrol activities with daily citizen interaction outside the agency.   Officers with BWCs are trained annually on updated BWC policy and operations of the cameras. Early in the BWC planning process, Newton County recognized the importance of developing a comprehensive BWC policy and robust training curriculum.

To ensure its BWC policy was comprehensive, Newton County developed a BWC stakeholder team that consisted of members of the sheriff’s office, district attorney’s office, public defender’s office, juvenile court personnel, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), religious groups, and advocacy groups. This group met regularly to discuss the BWC policy, provide feedback, and raise any issues or concerns. Each stakeholder provided feedback on how BWCs and the policy would affect his or her represented populations. For instance, Newton County explored several policy samples related to whether an officer should review BWC footage after an officer-involved shooting. The agency wanted to ensure the policy met the needs of both the officers and the department. In addition, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office also conducted extensive research to ensure that the BWC policy aligned with all state and local laws.

The stakeholder team continues to meet monthly to discuss BWC program updates, expansions, and concerns related to BWC footage release, policy, training, and overall BWC deployment. Newton County continues to work with this group to establish and update tracking mechanisms and additional policies affected by the deployment of BWCs, such as legal liabilities pertaining to the Freedom of Information Act, storage, retention, redaction, and privacy. BWCs affect multiple privacy policy topics, including civil rights, domestic violence, juveniles, sexual assault, and victim group considerations. The Newton County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to continually updating its BWC policy to adhere to best practice guidelines.

This project was supported by Grant No. 2019-BC-BX-K001 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.