FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – A grant is allowing the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office to move forward with the possible implementation of body-worn cameras for all deputies.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office received a $700,000 grant from the Department of Justice/Office of Justice Programs in mid-December 2021 that was approved in mid-January 2022, which saw it buy 350 body-worn cameras in June and its additional equipment in October. The start-up server for it to activate then arrived in December 2022.

“The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office recognizes the importance of the ability to record and of accountability,” the sheriff’s office said. “Body-worn cameras will increase evidentiary effectiveness by creating additional layers of documentation not previously available. Having the option to view the body-worn camera footage will assist us in developing a better perspective on deputies’ experiences and better handling of citizen encounters.”

The sheriff’s office said the “vendor and provider of the devices and software commenced the programming and activation of the equipment needed for testing to begin.”

The sheriff’s office is calling it beta testing. It’s a type of testing where a product team gives a nearly-finished product to a group of targeted users to evaluate product performance in the real world.

“Upon successful beta testing completion, every deputy will be assigned a body-worn camera on or before March 31, 2023,” the sheriff’s office said.

Additionally, this comes as Fayetteville as a whole remains up in the air on ShotSpotter, technology that detects gunshots and automatically alerts officers.

Mayor Mitch Colvin previously said a majority of Fayetteville citizens have been in support for more safety efforts including gun buy-back events as well as the city’s license plate reader system. He said the issue was brought back after an overwhelming amount of research, passion and discussion regarding some compromise.

This grant also comes as Fayetteville introduced a new Police Chief on Wednesday.