Fort Worth Clipping Cameras to Officers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Fort Worth police officers are being outfitted with body cameras. The department hopes the cameras will give people in the community more confidence in police officers.

    The Fort Worth Police Department is giving officers a new accessory -- clip-on cameras.

    The department is awaiting a shipment of 145 cameras that are designed to clip onto officers and record police interactions. Fort Worth police already have 50 of the AXON Flex cameras, which are made by Taser International Inc.

    Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead said the cameras will allow the public to see controversial incidents from the officer's perspective..

    "Every chief of police has a particular use-of-force incident that strained the public's trust and damaged their professional reputation," he said. "This technology has the ability to document exactly what occurred, what was said, and has proven to clearly demonstrate the incident for the community."

    Recently, Fort Worth police have come under fire over the shooting death of a 72-year-old homeowner. Jerry Waller was shot and killed by two officers who went to him home by mistake during a burglary call.

    A department spokeswoman said the officers, to the best of her knowledge, were not wearing cameras.

    The case is still pending.

    Rick Smith, Taser founder and CEO, said agencies that use the clip-on cameras see fewer complaints.

    "Across the country, agencies that deploy Taser Flex on-officer cameras have also seen reduction in use of force and reduction in complaints," he said. "The on-officer camera studies have proven the benefits of on-officer video."

    Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport police already use the clip-on cameras. Smith said Fort Worth is leading what he believes is the next wave in public safety.

    "Many thought leaders in law enforcement are telling us they see on-officer video will become standard equipment within the next five, 10 years," he said. "We believe on-officer video will have a significant positive impact on law enforcement similar in scope to the impact of Taser weapons in the early 2000s."

    Taser also offers a cloud-based system that provides law enforcement agencies with a secure, cost-effective data vault. Smith said it lets departments focus on their jobs and not on data management.

    The first 50 AXON Flex cameras cost Fort Worth $85,000. The 145 additional cameras, which are expected to arrive in a matter of weeks, cost $670,000.

    Money seized by the department was used to pay for the cameras.