Waco police department weighs body camera option

Police departments have started to use body cameras as another tool in fighting crime.

McLennan County constables currently use body cameras. Precinct one currently has three body cameras and is working with the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office to get four more.

Following suit, the Waco city council approved hiring a consultant to help the Waco Police department move toward buying body cameras in December 2015. The plan is to have the cameras implemented by October 2016.

Precinct five has also started the process to get body cameras for their deputies.

Police departments in Bellmead, Lacy, Lakeview and Moody have had body cameras for years.

Sergeant W. Patrick Swanton said that Waco Police Department does not yet have the body cameras but are researching them right now. Waco police currently have in-car video cameras, though. Swanton said the police department wants to make sure they purchase them correctly and there is a lot more to getting the body cameras than just purchasing them and putting them on.

Swanton said there are lots of reasons to implement body cameras but some that are important to the police department would be safety of the community and evidence preservation.

“Safety is an issue for us,” Swanton said. “And credibility with our community so we would be able to show our citizens what happened in specific events.”

Some issues that arise when implementing body cameras is data storage and cost.

The cost for buying the cameras would be $540,500 and it would be $237,000 to lease them, according to an article by the Waco Tribune.

The department will need to develop a server to store and retrieve the footage and make sure that server has ample storage space.

Some students think this initiative will be beneficial to ensure safety.

“I think it [body cameras] is a good thing,” said New Braunfels freshman Lindsey Stange. “Good to have an extra set of eyes to make sure everything is up to protocol and if something goes wrong you know who is responsible.”

The next step after hiring a consultant is for the police department to go to the city council to get approval for the funding of the consultant.

“It’s too early to discuss the use of body cameras at this time,” said the Baylor Police Department in an emailed statement. “But Baylor public safety officials are looking closely at the Waco police department as they work to implement a system.”