DA's Office Will Spend $1.9 Million to Outfit More Local Cops With Body Cams
It looks like there's finally an official plan in place for the purchase of some more body cameras for hundreds of local law enforcement officers.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson announced this afternoon that her office plans to dole out $1 million to the Houston Police Department and $900,000 to the Harris County Sheriff's Office for the purchase of hundreds of body cameras, which will be worn by officers while they're on duty. The money will come from assets the office has seized during criminal investigations, Anderson said.
The DA's office said that overwhelming frustration voiced at a recent town hall, along with the overwhelming community support for body cameras, led to the decision to chip in some funding for more local body cams.
Some Houston police officers will begin wearing cameras next November, but Sheriff Adrian Garcia says he may be able to start testing out those body devices in the next few months, according to the Chron.
The cameras, which have already been in use by some HPD officers during the "testing" phase, run upwards of $1,000 each, and are meant to provide more transparency during policing.
The funding announcement comes at a time of heightened tension across the nation over police shootings, including the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. The grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson last month triggered nationwide protests and demonstrations.
While the move to outfit more local cops with body cams is a step in the right direction for transparency, it is certainly no surefire guarantee that all officers will be held accountable for conduct caught on video. Just take, for example, the case of Eric Garner in New York City, which indicates body cameras might not be the end-all and be-all when it comes to holding cops accountable.
Garner was killed after being put in an illegal choke hold by an NYPD officer who was arresting him for selling "loosies," or loose cigarettes, on the streets of Staten Island. A bystander caught the death on video, during which Garner can be heard saying 11 times over, "I can't breathe."
Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who administered the choke hold, was not indicted by a grand jury in the man's death, despite the video evidence.