Warren County Supervisors discuss body cameras, bulletproof vests for tax assessor employees

Published 1:32 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Warren County Board of Supervisors is asking residents to be a little slower on the draw.

The Supervisors on Monday discussed equipping tax assessor’s office employees with body cameras, following the second incident this year in which Real Property Appraiser Joseph Davis had a gun pointed at him while in the field.

“He went out, he was in a clearly marked Warren County truck, had on his jacket, had on a shirt,” county administrator Loretta Brantley said. “The (homeowners) were not home, so he went to start measuring. And someone came from next door and pointed a gun at him.”

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The board discussed both the legality of property appraisers wearing cameras as well as alternative forms of protection that might be effective.

“Does he already have a bulletproof vest? That might be a better solution,” county attorney Blake Teller said.

District 3 Supervisor Shawn Jackson expressed concerns about the use of body cameras.

Jackson said she had qualms about purchasing a body camera in terms of the camera recording a crime, such as domestic violence or drug use, while employees were in the field.

“There is a precedent that, even for police departments, you don’t just go and get (a body camera) unless you’ve covered all your bases,” Jackson said. “There’s just a lot more to it than slapping on a body cam.”

Warren County Tax Assessor Ben Luckett called the incident a “hazard of the job,” and said it may be a good idea for employees to wear protective equipment while in the field, but it also might draw unwanted attention.

“When you walk up on someone’s property and you have ‘Tax Assessor’ written all over you, and a camera pointed at their face, that could open you up for some problems,” Luckett said. “We try to be as visible as possible, but we understand that people don’t like having someone on their property and they may not like taxes.”

Board of Supervisors Vice President Jeff Holland said he was in favor of securing a bulletproof vest for employees.

“Mentioning a vest is not a bad idea,” Holland said. “That really sounds like an awful thing, but it’s probably not a bad idea if a man’s got people pointing guns at him.”