Fort Worth

Arlington police begin wearing body cameras embedded in uniforms

Arlington police officers have begun wearing body cameras.
Arlington police officers have begun wearing body cameras. Arlington Police Department

Police in Arlington began wearing body cameras this month as part of a roll-out that will see all officers from the rank of lieutenant and below equipped with the cameras by March, the department announced Thursday.

Officers will be required to activate the cameras during calls for service, including traffic stops, arrests, and incidents involving use of force, such as a shooting or if they use a Taser, according to department policy.

The cameras will automatically activate in four scenarios: When an officer approaches a vehicle that has a door open, when the officer begins a foot pursuit, when the officer is knocked down, and when the officer unlocks their rifle from a holster inside their patrol car, said Lt. Chris Cook, police spokesman.

If officers don't activate their camera or stop recording during other scenarios, they are required by state law to provide a reason why.

The cameras will be embedded in police uniforms, revealing only a quarter-size lens opening and appearing roughly in the center of the chest. The City Council in June approved a three-year $1.47 million contract for 350 cameras.

About 300 cameras will be given to officers, while 50 will be stored as backups.

A $225,000 state grant is supplementing the funding for the three-year program, which includes the cameras, video-editing and other hardware, along with a data storage service, software licenses, installation and training.

Arlington police underwent a six-month pilot program with body cameras in 2015, testing the technology and surveying people who came in contact with police about their opinions on body cameras.

The issue of body cameras in Arlington drew attention after a white police officer fatally shot 19-year-old Christian Taylor, a black unarmed college student who had broken into a car dealership on Aug. 7, 2015. No cameras were in the dealership showroom, where the shooting happened, and the officers were not wearing body cameras.

Fort Worth was one one of the first police departments in North Texas to issue body cameras to officers, starting with a test program in 2010 and expanding annually. Soon, all of Fort Worth's roughly 1,500 officers will be equipped with automatically-activated bodycams, Chief Joel Fitzgerald told the city's Race and Culture Task Force in November.

This report contains information from the Star-Telegram archives

Ryan Osborne: 817-390-7684; Twitter: @RyanOsborneFWST

The Arlington Police Department released audio of a 911 call from William Paul Dodd, 21, the suspect shot by a Arlington police officer, that occurred a little more than an hour before the mall shooting. During the call Dodd identifies himself and