ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — The Round Rock Police Department is starting a body camera pilot project aimed at upholding the community’s trust.
Last month, security cameras were rolling at a Round Rock car wash when a suspect’s dog lunged at police as they arrested its owner. Officers shot and killed the dog. With this video, Round Rock Police Chief Allen Banks said they have had zero complaints. Without it, he said things could be different.
“It could have been, because you would have never seen the dog attacking the officer…it would have been just one eyewitness testimony of what happened,” said Banks.
Six body cameras are on their way and will be tested first with animal control officers before eventually being used by every police officer. Banks said the body cameras eliminate the disadvantages of the department’s dash cameras.
“With the body cameras, we’re now able to get that coverage inside of closed spaces. So, inside of a house or business,” he said.
Like the home of Hope Lane. Police were investigating a burglar alarm at her home in May when they came across Bullet. Police said the dog was acting aggressive before they shot and killed him. But officers didn’t have video evidence to back up their claims.
“It could have been different in regards to the different opinions of what happened or transpired within those residences,” Banks added. “It gives us a independent view of the actions or what transpired within that residence that day. And that’s our hope and our goal.”
Banks said cameras are not 100 percent reliable and can malfunction, but are a tool for better transparency. The chief said the pilot project has been in the works for nine months now and the department had a $13,500 budget with which to buy the six cameras. Funding for more cameras will need to come from city council.
You will also likely see Austin Police officers wearing body cameras later this year. The department is expected to pick a device by this spring and Austin officers could be wearing them by Christmas.
During a Public Safety Commission meeting in Austin last week, senior police officials said there remain challenges picking the right one. They said they want to find a model with an automatic ‘on’ switch.
Funding help could come from two bills before Texas lawmakers aimed at offsetting the cost of body cameras for law enforcement.