Police body camera use to spike in Tarrant County

Axon offers free body cameras to police

TARRANT COUNTY -- In a time when police encounters with the public are increasingly recorded, the three biggest law enforcement agencies in Tarrant County say they're increasing the use of body cameras to help protect their men and women.

Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn says he's looking at ways to outfit his patrol deputies, and perhaps even some jailers, with body cams.

"Each of those cameras tell a different angle and perspective," the first-term sheriff said.

Although there isn't a firm timeline for when the agency may get body cameras, Waybourn is hopeful they can put out some bids later this calendar year.

He says in this day and age, it can prove essential when it comes to public trust.

"If there is incredible public concern about an incident, we need to get the truth out, and need to get what really happened out," he says.

Earlier this month, Arizona-based Axon, formerly known as Taser, announced it was offering free cameras for any officers in the country for a year.

Fort Worth police have used Axon as their primary supplier for years. The department currently has some 750 cameras in use, with an additional 400 set to be ordered in June.

There are also plans to outfit some 150 recruits with new body cams, as well as orders for an additional 100 every year for the next five years.

By 2022, there should be around 1,600 in circulation department-wide, enough to outfit every sworn officer.

"That is the goal," Officer Jimmy Pollozani said. "For every officer to have one."

Although the practice caused some unrest when footage of a controversial arrest was leaked in January, the department says body cameras allow the public to see an officer's perspective. 

"For me personally, I have a camera myself, I have no problem turning on that camera, and utilizing it for every citizen contact I have," said Pollozani. 

Arlington police are also looking to expand their program.

Since 2015, they've used dozens of cameras as part of a pilot program.

It isn't clear how many more they plan to order, although the figure could be as high as 350, according to an October article from WFAA's media partner The Star-Telegram.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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