AUSTIN (KXAN) – Money from a recently-created state grant program stands to take a big chunk out of the $2 million price tag Austin police expect to spend this year on the city’s first department-wide, officer body-worn camera program. The Austin Police Department recently confirmed they were interested in applying for the grant under the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division.
Preliminary information shows APD will receive $750,000 in grant funds for 500 cameras.
“Each agency is now free to apply at their leisure between today and July 15. We will review and approve applications as they come in, rather than in one big group. So all done by August 15 or so, but grants drizzling out over time,” wrote Gov. Abbott’s Press Secretary, John Wittman in an email to KXAN.
In October, the Governor’s Office announced the $10 million program is likely a one-time offer and will “aid municipal police departments and county sheriffs’ offices in establishing or enhancing body-worn camera (BWC) programs.” Grantees must provide matching funds equal to 25 percent of the grant.
Austin is second only to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in total grant dollars awarded to 267 Texas law enforcement agencies. Statewide, the $10 million fund will provide 9,953 cameras divided between 16,913 officers at 267 law enforcement agencies large and small.
|Agency||Number of Officers||Allocated Cameras||Grant Amount|
|Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office||50||50||$52,500|
|Bastrop Police Department||15||15||$10,207|
|Bell County Sheriff’s Office||34||25||$12,550|
|Caldwell Co. Sheriff’s Office||25||25||$10,740|
|Fayette Co. Sheriff’s Office||27||27||$51,539|
|Fredericksburg Police Department||22||22||$25,062|
|Hutto Police Department||25||25||$34,375|
|Lago Vista Police Department||13||13||$9,075|
|Lampasas Co. Sheriff’s Office||14||15||$9,540|
|Manor Police Department||20||20||$32,002|
|Marble Falls Police Department||13||13||$9,000|
|Round Rock Police Department||102||90||$75,000|
|San Marcos Police Department||75||75||$50,914|
|Smithville Police Department||8||8||$3,920|
|Travis Co. Sheriff’s Office||260||50||$128,123|
|Total (w/ APD):||$1,265,547|
Many police departments in Central Texas already have, or are, looking at adding body cameras. Manor’s Police Chief says his city council was resistant to spending more than $30,000 in local funds for 20 new body cameras that sync with the department’s in-car camera system, so the Governor’s grant is the perfect solution.
“I haven’t heard anything negative within my department. It’s going to help our officers protect themselves from false claims… (and offer) extra protection for us on the street,” newly-minted Chief Ryan Phipps tells KXAN, adding he expects to receive the new gear and storage hardware this spring.
Austin police say they plan to have downtown officers outfitted with body cameras in time for this year’s Fourth of july celebrations. A Request for Proposals period ended Jan. 15 and city staff are now in the process of picking the vendor through a scoring process from a group of 10 finalists.