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It’s been a long time coming, but after four officer-involved shootings in the past four years, with two of those having occurred in the past nine months, Lincoln County Sheriff Bill Beam elected to move forward and request funding to obtain body cameras for deputies. One of those recent officer-involved shootings involved two deputies being shot as well.

“Times have changed, and we have to change along with them,” Beam said. “We are one of the few departments that does not have body cameras for our officers. This not only helps our officers; it shows justification when no one else is around. We were fortunate on these other two situations in that there were plenty of witnesses.”

The body cameras will be leased to the department and as part of the service, deputies will be provided with their own personal tasers. Cameras will be changed out three times during the five-year period. The amount for this expense is not to exceed $1.5 million over a five-year period.

Commissioner Anita McCall asked Bean why he hadn’t put this expense in a past budget.

“There’s just so many things that we need,” Beam explained. “We really have had some of the issues that other departments have had. When it happens on my watch twice in nine months, it’s shaking me by the collar saying, ‘okay, you’re here.’ With all that’s occurred nation-wide and civil unrest, I’ve had community groups come and ask me about body cameras.”

Lincoln County sheriff deputies have always been armed with tasers, but they’re shared between deputies.

Commissioners also approved purchase of an application that can be downloaded on Apple and Android devices which will be utilized to provide information on the sheriff’s office including copies of reports, making appointments, who’s in jail and other sheriff-related information and services. The funds to pay for this application, $15,970 for the first year and an annual fee of $7,990 starting in year two and following, will come solely from the detention center’s commissary fund. Because it’s a capital purchase, it had to be approved by the commissioners.

A 2% increase in the supplement to all certified teachers was approved by the commissioners. Originally, it was intended that this increase be only for certified, classroom teachers. It was pointed out to the commissioners that there are certified teachers who are not in classrooms and that they should get the increase as well. Commissioners unanimously approved this $99,086 increase to the current amount that the county has allotted to the schools in the 2020-2021 budget.

The board heard two quasi-judicial cases:

Patrick Boyle requested a conditional use permit to allow a residential accessory structure, a 1,092-square-foot garage, to be located in front of the front building line of a house on a lot adjacent to Lake Norman. The 0.73-acre parcel is located at 5073 Fox Hollow Drive in Catawba Springs Township.

Lincoln County Public Works Department requested preliminary plat approval for the dedication of public right-of-way for a new road. The 7.23-acre parcel is located on the north side of Optimist Club Road at its intersection with Airlie Parkway in Catawba Springs Township.

These cases will be decided upon at the next meeting of the commissioners on Dec. 21.

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