WILBARGER COUNTY - If you get stopped by a Wilbarger County deputy, you and others involved may be recorded now that each deputy is now equipped with a body camera.
Deputies began using their body cameras about a week ago, joining a growing list of law enforcement agencies in Texoma which have already implemented the cameras.
Each deputy, as well as corrections officers in the Wilbarger County Jail, now have the cameras. The sheriff says the technology comes with many benefits with no cost to the taxpayers.
"Whenever they're doing a traffic stop, they will have the cameras on," Sheriff Bill Price said. "If they go to a family violence call, basically any call of service, they will have their cameras on."
"The ease of use is probably one of the biggest pros as far as the camera itself is concerned," deputy Jim Mcknight said.
Deputies spent over a year testing and evaluating various body cameras to find the model that would do the best job.
"It shows what we can do, what we can implement," Price said. "If you have an incident where you're talking to a suspect or a victim, the cameras are on. They know that they're being filmed."
These body cameras are not only an investment for the sheriff's office but for the public. Not costing the taxpayers a single dime.
"We used law enforcement vendors that are associated with our department that gave us technology funds to acquire these cameras and that kept us from using taxpayer dollars to purchase them," Price said.
Deputy McKnight says the cameras are a benefit beyond traffic stops and arrests. He says the cameras could make a difference if the sheriff's office or the county is sued and could prevent altercations from even occurring.
"It's a little difficult to say that somebody was doing something they shouldn't have been, whenever it's all captured on video and audio," McKnight said.
Sheriff Price says the cameras can be used to evaluate how an incident was handled by the deputy and could provide evidence that may be difficult to refute in court.
"I think it's a better transparency when you have public relations and interactions between officers and the citizen," Price said.
The total cost of the equipment was about $4,000. The sheriff's office has a computer that runs the program for the body cams and only the sheriff and the chief deputy can review the video.
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