Police body cameras tested in Houston, Harris County

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Technology designed to record law enforcement interactions with the public, including officer involved shootings, is undergoing testing by at least two police agencies in Harris County.

"I think it's a huge step. It's something that ought to be standard," said Harris County Precinct 6 Constable Victor Trevino.

Starting in 2011, a select few Precinct 6 deputies started wearing a so-called "body camera."

The idea behind the cameras is to provide an unbiased, silent witness to police interactions with the general public. Some believe such devices have the ability to deter officers from acting unlawfully.

Trevino stopped short of saying such a device would have prevented the controversy, and civil unrest, now enveloping Ferguson, Missouri.

Ferguson is the St. Louis suburb where unarmed teen, Michael Brown, was shot multiple times, and killed by a police officer.

"Just to say this guy has a video camera so it would have avoided all this, we don't know," Trevino said.

Trevino's office currently has four cameras, which can be set to record either manually or automatically.

The Houston Police Department is also testing body cameras on a larger scale.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker weighed in on the issue Tuesday, releasing a statement to Local 2 which read, "The Houston Police Department launched a pilot program consisting of 100 body cameras last December.  I believe they can be useful in documenting the actions of both the public and the police while they are on patrol, but the program is still in the testing phase. As is always the case, finding the funding to provide this type of new technology is always difficult."

To read more about HPD's body camera program, click here.

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