APD won’t wear body cams until 2017

(AP File Photo/Matt Rourke)
Body camera (AP File Photo/Matt Rourke)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — With word city police may not roll out a department-wide body cam project until the 2017 budget year, Austin’s police monitor and former Travis County sheriff is joining community leaders in wanting to step up the pace of implementing the scheme aimed at enhancing law enforcement transparency in Texas’ capital city.

“I get scared when I hear the timeline laid out by Austin Police Department…I don’t think it has to be a two-year process,” Margo Frasier told members of the recently formed Council Public Safety Committee.

Frasier added the city has to be thoughtful about the roll-out of what she calls a huge investment and to not rush into implementing the cameras, as other cities have after a critical incident.

Others like NAACP’s Nelson Linder are appealing for a quick launch to “save lives.”

Securing funding through local taxpayers or the state legislature must happen before a formal request for proposals could be issued, police say. That is delaying a faster implementation. APD estimates an initial cost of $2 million to get the program going. Costs over five years could total $7M:

  • $2.2 million for hardware
  • $3.3 million for storage and staff

The rest would be in personnel costs, police say including staffing to handle Open Records requests. APD is able to supply those estimates after going over submissions from 17 vendors who responded to a request for information this winter.

Asst. Chief Jason Dusterhoft said the eventual roll-out could take up to 18 months once a vendor is chosen and the equipment is tested. He also told KXAN it would likely begin with some segment of patrol, including downtown foot patrol officers who have a lot of contact with the public in areas like Sixth Street. APD first tried out body cams at the Texas Relays in 2011. 25 Austin officers now wear personal body cams allowed by policy.

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