Sheriff’s department to roll out use of body cameras
Taylor County is joining the national trend of using body cameras to record interactions between law enforcement and members of the public.
According to Taylor County Sheriff Larry Woebbeking, over the next few weeks deputies will receive training on the new body cameras with expected use in the field soon to follow.
According to Woebbeking, the county has been looking at making the transition to using body cameras for a while, but held off because of the price. however, as with other technology, the price has come down, and reliability has increased since they first came on the market. The other ongoing issue was with file storage. Like all other evidence, squad and body camera recordings must be kept for a specified period of time.
The county spent $24,000 to purchase the new body cameras and Woebbeking said the county’s computer system is capable of handling the required storage of the video files.
Woebbeking said the cameras, which are about the same size as a double stack of playing cards, have a run time of 14-16 hours without needing to be downloaded. The recorders will attach to the deputies’ vests and be located at chest level allowing the wide-angle camera to record what the deputy sees and hears.
Woebbeking said the county specifically went with the Watchguard brand of body cameras because it interfaces with the same brand of squad based cameras the county uses. “When the deputy turns his lights on the camera will switch on automatically,” Woebbeking said. This feature eliminates deputies from having to remember to manually turn on the cameras, although they will have the ability to do it with a single touch if a situation develops.
Sheriff’s deputies in Taylor County will soon be issued body cameras such as this one to be worn on their equipment vest.
Woebbeking said he sees the body cameras as a positive tool ensuring transparency with law enforcement over interactions with the public. They can prove benefi cial for deputies if there are allegations made. At the same time, Woebbeking said they can be a valuable training tool to ensure law enforcement officers follow their training.
In addition to the cameras that will be issued and worn by each road deputy, the department will have an extra one that can be used by detectives during criminal investigations.
According to Woebbeking, body cameras are already in use by some neighboring jurisdictions and in joint investigations there have been questions raised about Taylor County’s lack of body cameras.
With a rugged construction, the body cameras are expected to last several years in regular use. In the future Woebbeking expects that there will be a phased replacement of them to avoid a large budgetary impact.