TAYLOR COUNTY—Body cameras are a great tool for officers that can provide information that can aid in a case, but what happens when the quality of video prevents officials from obtaining much needed footage? This is a concern heard by the Taylor County Commission recently.
Taylor County Sheriff Terry A. Austin approached the commission to ask for funding to purchase new cameras for his officers.
“The cameras we have now work well inside or during the day when there is plenty of light, the footage obtained at night is a different story all together,” he said.
Austin revealed that footage collected in dim lighting lacks clarity and is often hard to see.
“Everyone knows that nothing good happens after midnight,” jested Commissioner Sam Gerkin, who voiced that if the footage wasn’t of a quality that could provide clear answers, then it was practically useless.
The sheriff told the commission that the cameras provide vital information and are often used to help with liability issues.
“When it comes to body cameras, pretty much nowadays, they are a must,” he said.
Not on is video quality an issue the department is facing, but the cameras being utilized now are easily broken off of the clip that is used to secure them to the officers.
“I’ve reached out to Watch Guard out of Texas, and they have a really great system. They have a plate that goes in a shirt or vest and is magnetized and when you hook on the camera, it really stays on,” Austin said.
In addition, the new cameras would feature a lens that could be adjusted for height.
“To outfit two cars with cameras and to purchase an additional 8 body cameras, including charging docks and charging kits we would need, it would come in at $30, 320,” Austin revealed.
“With all due respect, these cameras that you have now are just not worth anything,” voiced Commission President Orville Wright. “When we bought them, they were good, but technology has advanced so much.”
Austin revealed that the cameras currently in use would be shifted to his security department for when they were in the courtroom or holding prisoners.
“They will be great for those guys, because the lighting in the courthouse in sufficient enough to capture images,” he said.
With a better-quality picture, the ability to adjust the lens so that an individual could be fully seen the camera’s view and a longer battery life, the commission decided that the purchase of the cameras was a necessity for the safety of the officers.
Commission Veltri made the motion to approve the purchase of the new body cameras, Gerkin seconded and the motion passed.