'Body Cameras' helping Nacogdoches Precinct 1 Constable catch the bad guys
July 8, 2014 at 8:32 PM CDT - Updated July 20 at 11:07 PM
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE)
A small, black camera that pins easily onto officer’s shirts is causing a big stir in Nacogdoches. Officers at the Nacogdoches County Constable Precinct 1 office say a trial run of the “body camera” has not only helped them with their cases but is helping them with their traffic stops.
"They provide a better viewpoint on traffic stops between the officer and the person being stopped. The audio is a lot better and just overall better quality," said Constable William Sowell.
It's no secret the officers have the cameras, Sowell said, but realizing they're there is the hard part.
"We’ve had quite a bit of success with them and decided we really liked them, so we made the investment of purchasing three," Sowell said.
The problem with relying on patrol cars, Sowell added, is that some of the action and audio is never even seen.
“What got us interested in it was the traffic stops on major highways. The audio on the in-car recording systems, sometimes, wasn’t the best," Sowell said. "You'd have a lot of road noise, so we contacted the company that makes these cameras or the in-car cameras and asked if they had anything different, and they told us about these body cameras,”
The cameras cost taxpayers nothing because they were paid for through forfeited funds by criminals, Sowell said. One camera alone costs $450, Sowell said.
Also, the body cameras help capture the emotions of potential victims, Sowell said, and that is a detail he finds incredibly valuable in his investigations.
“A lot of times, we get written statements from the victims, and they’re emotional and upset over what happened, and a lot of times, their statements don’t really reflect what actually occurred,” Sowell said.
If the case goes to trial, Sowell said, the judge and jury can see first-hand the victim’s original testimony and emotion, which can be the money shot.
Right now, the Constable Precinct 1 office is the only Nacogdoches-based law enforcement agency with the cameras, Sowell said.