The North Richland Hills Police department is replacing outdated body cameras with one that will start recording if an officer draws his weapon or taser from its holster during a call.
North Richland Hills Council recently approved spending $645,237 to purchase the camera system from Arizona-based Axon Enterprise (formerly TASER International).
The body cameras in use now are almost 10 years old and are becoming obsolete, authorities said. The new system will include body cameras, cameras for patrol cars and the necessary equipment for storing, maintaining the audio and video.
“You’ve seen in the media where we’ve (police departments) had a lot of use of force issues,” Assistant Police Chief Mike Young told council members.
The police department is purchasing 119 body cameras and 43 vehicle cameras.
The officers should have their body cameras by mid-January and the new system should be in place by mid-March, said Carissa Katekaru, a spokeswoman for the police department.
“There is a public need to see the video, and officers want you to see the good job they are doing. And this also protects them from false claims,” Young said.
The bid from Axon was significantly lower than other vendors and allowed the department to buy the equipment to activate the cameras if an officer draws a taser or sidearm while on a call, Young said.
The department also purchased helmet cameras for the SWAT team.
All videos will be stored in the cloud, so there isn’t the extra cost of maintaining a server.
Other major cities including Fort Worth, Dallas, Irving, Grand Prairie and Garland use equipment from Axon Enterprises.
Arlington Police began rolling out new cameras in December and all officers from the rank of lieutenant and below will be equipped with the cameras by March.
The cameras will automatically activate in four scenarios, such as when an officer approaches a vehicle that has a door open or when the officer unlocks their rifle from a holster inside their patrol car, said Lt. Chris Cook, Arlington police spokesman.
The cameras, which the Arlington City Council approved in June as a three-year, $1.47 million deal, will be embedded in police uniforms, near the center of the chest.
This article contains information from Star-Telegram archives.