WICHITA COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — To ensure safety and to hold those accountable both in law enforcement and the public, the Wichita County Sheriff’s Office will soon have 70 new body cameras.
“It will show exactly what somebody propelled themselves to get put in jail, as well as, the action the officer took or the deputy took to protect themselves or the public,” Wichita County Sheriff David Duke said.
That protection could be vital to enforcement and public safety and also provide extra evidence to help determine what took place at a scene.
“I come from an era where there were no cameras,” Duke said. “When you sign an affidavit that’s the truth and if you lie about it, especially nowadays if you lie on anything your word is no longer good in law enforcement. There are other professions where people lie all of the time and they get away with it but by Texas law standards, you start lying, you are going to get kicked out of the business. The way it should be.”
Monday, the Wichita County Commissioners Court approved a $125,330 payment to purchase 70 body-worn cameras, accessories, and licenses to be used for sheriff patrol officers, jail staff, and courthouse security. Part of that will be paid by a body-worn payment grant.
“County judge is generally the grants administrator so those come through, the court approves them then they have to do some admissions but Chief McFerrin prepared all of that, justified it, got the grant so it’s going to help us considerably in that cost of body armor,” Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom said.
Duke said officers will be required to have them on during certain moments and if they don’t, they will be punished.
“There will be disciplinary action against someone who shuts the camera off way too soon during an investigation or a traffic stop or traffic search when you search a vehicle or searching a person,” Duke said.
Now, the hope is these new body cameras will keep not just law enforcement but also the public safe and accountable.
The Sheriff’s Office is expected to have these cameras running by next week. As for the WFPD, Sgt. Charlie Eipper said they are still trying to fully fund the hardware for capturing and recording memory for all officers. As of right now, motorcycle officers have body cams and patrol officers have vehicle-mounted cameras and body microphones.
Also, the county commissioners approved $79,780 for new bullet-resistant windows at the LEC. This was something that was in the original plans but the commissioners weren’t sure if they had the budget for it but they now do.