Watch CBS News

Santa Clara County Sheriff Uses Her Own Money To Buy Jail Cameras

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith wasn't willing to wait two years for a new camera system at the county jail, so she used her own money to purchase security cameras at a local Costco.

Smith gave KPIX 5  the first look at the new security cameras as they were installed in a maximum security pod.

"If it's going to take two years to get a new system in, these are great in the interim," Smith said.

On Wednesday, county officials told the sheriff it would take two more years and $20 million before any more cameras made it inside the jail.

So Smith took matters into her own hands and bought 12 security cameras using her own credit card and Costco membership.

The sheriff spent about $760 on 12 Lorex high-def cameras that capture views of the multi-purpose room, exercise room and each of the 50 jail cell doors.

Smith said, "We didn't want to get hung up in the bureaucracy and the red tape. We wanted cameras in the facilities."

The gaps in the main jail's surveillance system were exposed after three correctional deputies were accused of fatally beating inmate Michael Tyree last August. That incident was not captured on camera.

Those three deputies were sat side by side in court Monday at their preliminary hearing.

"I've been talking about cameras for a long time and our camera project started a long time ago and I think it's just something that we have to do," Smith said.

The sheriff says this is a temporary solution until the new system comes along.

Sheriff Smith said she may buy more cameras and consulted with county building department before buying them.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.