Citing the need to increase transparency, accountability and community engagement, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said that his department will use forfeiture funds to purchase 200 body cameras that will begin recording early next year.
The move comes in the midst of statewide movement toward using the cameras. State Senator Royce West introduced a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would require all police departments in the state to purchase and use the cameras. The Fort Worth Police Department already has 600 of the cameras and Lancaster, Duncanville and Denton's departments are looking to get their hands on some. Susan Hawk, the newly elected Dallas district attorney, has offered to buy body cameras for DPD with funds from her office as well.
In October, DPD concluded a pilot program during which it tested 50 of the cameras. Those cameras are still being used, and some officer have started using their own. The aftermath of Tuesday morning's cop shooting at a North Dallas Wal-Mart was captured on a responding officer's personal camera.
West said that he understands the privacy concerns that the cameras stir. Figuring when the cameras should be turned off and what captured video should be shown to the public makes community input and trust essential, and West says he wants residents to part of the process in any community in which the cameras are implemented.
The estimated cost to outfit each cop in the state with a camera would be $50-70 million. That cost, the privacy issues and how to store the massive amount of data that would be generated by the cameras are the biggest problems facing widespread use of the cameras. West said those problems could be worked out in the upcoming legislative session.
"This is a national debate, and Texas can not afford to be left out of the debate and cut out of the solution," West said.