CCSD Purchase Dash Cams

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Clay County Deputy Clint Davis shows-off one of the new dash cam units.(TD photo/Christopher Lee)

The Clay County Sheriff's Department recently purchased four new dashboard cameras for their units, a need which was brought to light last fall following an unfortunate tragedy. As is often the case when a tragedy occurs, the need for change emerges, which eventually led to the department's acquisition of the new cameras.

Cameras had been a long time need for the department when the effort to purchase them started last year. Clay County Sheriff Terry Miller noted the cameras are not only a benefit to the deputies of Clay County, but also for the residents as well.

“Well the main need was the fact that we needed something in the vehicles that would help capture evidence, contacts with people in the community, but what really brought it about was the pursuit we had a little under a year ago in Rector that unfortunately cost a person their life.” Miller explained in referring to the death of Sadine Dixon.

Piggott resident Sadine Dixon, 84 was an unfortunate casualty of a high speed pursuit back in October, 2016. In the morning of Sunday, Oct. 2, police became involved in a high speed pursuit with two suspected car thieves Robert Huffines, 36, of Holcomb, Mo. and Lea Mamino, 32, of Collinsville, Ill. The chase had led police from Kennett, to across the state line at St. Francis all the way to Rector. Near Rector, Deputy Terry Burdin spotted the suspects' vehicle and joined the pursuit- and the tragic accident occurred a short time later near the Pine Street rail crossing on West Ninth Street.

Dixon had apparently pulled over for the suspects to pass, but when she pulled back onto the road she drove into the path of Dep. Burdin, who struck her vehicle at high speed. Dixon lost her life in the collision, with Dep. Burdin suffering several injuries. The chase would continue until the suspects were apprehended in Paragould after hitting a concrete retaining wall near the intersection of Highways 49 and 412..

While the suspects were being investigated for their crimes, Dep. Burdin would also be under investigation. Without a dashboard camera to provide evidence, it took considerably longer to determine whether or not Dep. Burdin had done everything in his power to prevent the collision. While Dep. Burdin would eventually be exonerated of any fault, this turn of events prompted a fundraising effort to install dash cams in all police vehicles.

Sheriff Miller explained the importance of the cameras, and what the cameras means for the Clay County community.

“It's a tool we can use in prosecution purposes and things of that nature. It also forces the community to realize that we are in need of these tools to do our job better,” said Sheriff Miller. He continued by saying the cameras are also an important tool in eliminating rumors from forming during investigations in future cases.

This sentiment was reaffirmed by Deputy Clint Davis during a demonstration of the new cameras. Davis said the cameras not only help protect the community, they also protect law enforcement by offering a window into the actual events.

According to Sheriff Miller the cameras are all ready making this a reality.

“They have helped us in some instances we've had on arrests and everything. Mainly to refresh an officers memory on what took place during a certain confrontation,” said Sheriff Miller.

The new dash cams, which are mounted to the ceiling of the vehicle, offer a clear recording of what the officer is seeing during a pursuit, traffic stop or while waiting normally. The cameras are made by Pro Vision, a company which specializes in high quality camera equipment. The cameras come with displays and high definition recording equipment which means each comes with a hefty price tag. According to Sheriff Miller each camera unit costs about $2,500.

The high price of the cameras inspired supporters of the department to start a campaign to raise the money through donations from the public. With a strong public response, donations were raised from local residence and organizations. Some of the standouts include, Hitts Chapel Missionary Baptist Church which donated $2,200, and the Northeast Arkansas Rod and Gun Club, efforts led by Terry Burdin Sr., which donated $500 to the cause. Other sources of funds came from more donations and the acquiring of grants from the county. According to Sheriff Miller it took approximately six months to gather the funds necessary to purchase the cameras.

Miller also offered a word of thanks to everyone who helped gather the money to achieve this victory for the people of Clay County. “Thank you for helping us be able to purchase the cameras, it will help us to be able to do our job better and more efficient, and will help us when it comes time for prosecution.”

Sheriff Miller said future plans for his department include upgrading both the vehicle fleet and the equipment in the vehicles, and the current radio equipment.

Keeping up with technology is a difficult task, and with the speed it advances today it seems to get more difficult each day, but the personnel of the Clay County Sheriff's Department continue to strive to stay on the cutting edge. Each new system, such as the new dash cams, helps to assure not only the safety of the citizens of Clay County, but also the personal safety of each of the deputies who work everyday to keep those citizens safe.

Those wanting additional information on the program, or how they might help purchase additional units, may contact the Clay County Sheriff's Department at 870-598-2270.

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