Fort Bend County purchases body cameras for law enforcement agencies

By George Slaughter, News Editor
Posted 2/10/22

Fort Bend County officials have purchased new body camera equipment to be used by all law enforcement agencies in the county.

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Fort Bend County purchases body cameras for law enforcement agencies

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Fort Bend County officials have purchased new body camera equipment to be used by all law enforcement agencies in the county.

The county is purchasing the equipment from Axon Enterprise in a 10-year deal worth more than $22 million. Officials said the technology would be updated every 30 months and refreshed every five years.

In addition to the body cameras, the deal also includes improved tasers and fleet cameras for police vehicles. Approximately half of the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s office will have the equipment within the next six to eight weeks.

Each agency—sheriff, constables, district attorney, and municipal police departments in the county, and so forth—will have their own separate account. Officials said the videos will be encrypted and easy to share with other offices as needed. The data is cloud-based which will help with data storage.

The technology will enable audio recording and GPS tracking, officials said.

The standard technology will encourage both transparency and accountability, County Judge KP George said at a Feb. 3 news conference.

The idea for standard technology for law enforcement agencies in Fort Bend County has been in the works for some time. George said Fort Bend County commissioners began working on a policy last year and adopted it in November.

“We have noticed that everyone was following similar policies (regarding the use of body cameras), but we wanted to bring everything under one policy,” George said.

Fort Bend County Sheriff Eric Fagan said officer safety is paramount, as is public transparency and trust. He said the technology saves time, money and possibly lives.

“In some situations, what you have in law enforcement is not all-the-time cordial,” Fagan said. “People have different versions of the incident. With body cameras, we can see what actually happened.”

Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian Middleton said the technology provides great accountability to law enforcement personnel because they know they’re being recorded.

“We behave differently when we’re being watched,” Middleton said.

George said the 2020 murder of George Floyd helped inspire the discussions about how to proceed. George said county leaders asked young people for their input and body cameras were suggested. One view that came from those discussions was that police officers needed to feel safe while also being held accountable for their actions.

“It’s all about our young people,” George said.

Axon Enterprise is based in Scottsdale, Ariz.