New HPD chief wants officers to wear automatic body cameras

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Houston's new police chief is planning a policy change when it comes to body cameras.  Chief Art Acevedo says he wants to "take away the human element as much as possible".

The body cams Houston police officers wear now are manually turned on and off by the officers.  ”We don't want a system, we want the right system,” explains Chief Acevedo who plans to upgrade the Houston Police Department to body cameras that turn on automatically.

”Without those automatic triggers we really are setting up for failure.  If they turn the corner and see a person getting shot at or stabbed or assaulted the last thing they should worry about is pressing a button,” says Chief Acevedo.

“I actually think that’s a great idea.  He implemented those cameras in Austin with APD.  If somebody was actually in the wrong we’ll be able to see it.  If the officer was in the wrong we’ll be able to see it,” says Black Lives Matter Activist Ashton Woods.

”We don’t mind anything that makes it easier for the officer but I believe this is just a knee jerk reaction for something that will correct itself,” explains Doug Griffith with the Houston Police Officers Union.

Griffith admits officers have forgotten to turn cameras on immediately but he says that will change as they get used to wearing them.

”We’re close to 1,500 people down.  I’d rather see the money put into an academy class and get more officers on the street,” adds Griffith.

How much would it cost to make HPD's body cams automatic?

”It would be around $750 per car to outfit the car with the ability to start the cameras when the doors open or when the lights come on, a grand total of about $1.2 million,” says Griffith.  He says he also believes more video footage will mean more storage issues and an added cost down the road for the needed storage.

Chief Acevedo hasn't yet released a timeline for putting the policy in place.

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