Augusta County Board of Supervisors discuss body cameras

Scott Seaton proposes a committee to discuss the purchase and use of body cameras on Wednesday,...
Scott Seaton proposes a committee to discuss the purchase and use of body cameras on Wednesday, July 28. (WHSV)(WHSV)
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 6:54 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Protesters began pushing for the purchase and use of body and dash cameras in Augusta County about two months ago.

Sheriff Donald Smith had said he supports the use of body cameras, but he said there are other priorities to take care of first. The Board of Supervisors said they can’t work it out in the budget at this time in the fiscal year.

At Wednesday night’s board meeting, though, there was some movement among officials.

“I think bringing people together to talk instead of the daily confrontation of yelling where no one listens is much better,” said Supervisor Scott Seaton.

Seaton suggested the board form a committee to discuss their options. The leader of the protests, Antwhon Suiter, said the discussion is important to him.

“For [Seaton] to bring up the whole situation and try to diffuse it, it means a lot to me,” he said.

Now, the sheriff has to respond to the resolution. Just because a committee was mentioned, it does not mean they will proceed.

“We wanted to touch base with Sheriff Smith to get his feelings before we decided it was maybe best to go and start a committee,” said Supervisor Butch Wells, who served as the chair at Wednesday’s meeting. He said Smith needed time to think on the discussion before the committee would be approved.

WHSV reached out to Smith on Thursday for a comment, and the request has been received, but he did not immediately respond.

Suiter said the discussion is a step in the right direction, but he still wants to see action.

“You have people, you have the board of supervisors, you have the community, everybody wants body cams,” Suiter said. “We’re at a pause mode right now with Dr. Seaton’s recommendation.”

Suiter said the resolution is a step in the right direction but said they won’t stop protesting until body cameras are official.

“That’s what this all is really about. It’s about the safety and security of the people and the deputies,” he said.

The proposed committee would evaluate the need for cameras, as well as the cost. It would include many members of the community with the goal of getting many different perspectives.

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