The cities of Lorena and Woodway each approved money to equip their police departments with body cameras, with the help of a state grant.
Lorena Police Chief Tom Dickson spoke to council members about the $4,108.75 project that would enable the department to equip four full-time officers with body cameras, plus technology to store footage. Lorena will buy the equipment, then the state will reimburse 75 percent of the $4,108.75 cost through a grant program starting this year.
After brief discussion about privacy rights and the responsibilities of the department, the Lorena City Council agreed during its most recent meeting to support the grant process to purchase the cameras.
“We were notified that the criminal justice division of the governor’s office, from last legislative session, had about $10 million that they were going to try to fund body camera projects for people who were interested,” Dickson said to the council. “We sent in a preliminary notification to the governor’s office and we were notified in January that if we applied for the grant that we would get it.”
Dickson said the department factored the cost of cameras into its budget for the year. Three officers stood by Dickson in support of the camera project.
“I, for one, am very for these cameras,” Lorena Officer Peter Ribas said. “They save our skin a lot, and it has already been proven with a lot of the agencies that have employed body-worn cameras . . . Body cameras will just bring that first-person view as to where the camera inside our cars won’t catch the entire story.”
Woodway City Council members also agreed to move forward with an application for the same state grant money. Woodway will buy cameras for 21 officers with its Public Safety Department, Assistant Chief Bret Crook said.
With an out-of-pocket cost to the department of $5,022.50 and a total cost of more than $20,000, Crook said it plans to implement body cameras for all patrol officers sometime in the summer.
“There was a lot of hesitation when in-car cameras became a requirement, but I wouldn’t be surprised if body-worn cameras become a requirement for all Texas law enforcement at some point,” he said.
Woodway and Lorena officials said the state has assured the departments that sent in preliminary notifications for the grant that money will be available. No projected purchase date was known for Woodway or Lorena.