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Family ties put cameras in Flowery Branch police cars

POSTED: January 29, 2009 12:00 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

This video camera was installed on the windshield of a Flowery Branch police patrol car.

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FLOWERY BRANCH — Family ties across jurisdictional lines helped bring some needed in-car camera systems to the Flowery Branch Police Department.

Cpl. Eric Cook had asked his uncle, Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison, if his office had any equipment it wasn’t using anymore.

"We happened to have upgraded our technology a couple of years ago and had these (cameras), and nobody else in our county uses this particular style," said Garrison, who is serving his fifth four-year term in Cherokee.

Upon his request, the Cherokee County commission authorized donating eight of the systems to Flowery Branch.

"They are still in really good shape and working order," said Flowery Branch Police Chief Gerald Lanich.

The equipment costs about $4,500 per unit, "so this is quite a contribution Sheriff Garrison has made for us," he added.

As frequently shown in TV shows about crime and law enforcement, the camera systems enable officers to record traffic stops and other patrol activities outside their vehicle.

"Basically, it acts as an impartial third party on all interactions (with) the public, and it just helps as a documentation of every situation that we’re involved in," said Flowery Branch Officer Adam Locke.

The police department has 10 patrol cars. Only three had the units before the donation.

With eight systems from Cherokee either at the department or on their way, "I’ll end up with a spare unit, which is great in case something goes wrong," Lanich said.

"A camera system in a (patrol) car is just invaluable," he said. "A picture is worth a thousand words."

Installation of the systems began Wednesday. Lanich said he hopes the units will be operating in all the cars in two to three weeks.

Officers can manually operate the camera while they are on patrol.

"When they turn their blue lights on, the camera automatically comes on," Lanich said.

Garrison heaped praise on the department, which last week started a K-9 unit featuring a 1«-year-old Labrador retriever, Bart, and began bicycle patrols last summer.

"It seems to be a real professional agency and I’m just glad to help," he said. "(The cameras) were sitting in a box here, and (Flowery Branch) needed them, and the rest is history."



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