(FORT BEND, TX) – On Thursday, February 3, Fort Bend County Judge KP George unveiled the County’s new body-worn cameras, tasers, and virtual training simulator that will be used by Fort Bend County law enforcement officers.
Judge George was joined by Fort Bend County Sheriff Eric Fagan, Fort Bend County Pct. 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales, Fort Bend County Pct. 4 Commissioner Ken DeMerchant, Fort Bend County Constable Pct. 4 Mike Beard, Fort Bend County Chief Deputy Jimmy Evans of Pct. 3 Constable Nabil Shike’s office and several other Fort Bend County Peace Officers for the event held at the Gus George Police Academy in Richmond, TX.
George along with Sheriff Eric Fagan emphasized the goal of the body-worn camera policy is meant to improve officer safety, public transparency, and accountability. Within the next six to eight weeks, 50% percent of Patrol Deputies from the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office will begin using body-worn cameras.
“This technology will allow us to provide law enforcement with a surveillance tool to promote officer safety and efficiency and prevent crime,” said Judge KP George. “ The public and our law enforcement men and women are supportive of the technology. You have to have informed discussions between communities and law enforcement about the role of body-worn cameras, once you do, it comes down to it being the best option for everyone involved.”
2019 marked the onset of County Commissioners’ desire to implement body-worn cameras for Fort Bend County peace officers. The countywide body-worn camera policy was approved by Fort Bend County Commissioners on May 25, 2021.
The policy was created to serve as a comprehensive guideline for the various law enforcement agencies in the county. The policy requires that body-worn cameras must be activated and recording when an officer is being dispatched or prior to exiting his or her vehicle when responding to any call for service. The camera must remain activated and recording until the activity is completed or a reason to deactivate the camera is present.
The agreement with Axon to provide body-worn cameras, virtual training, and the digital evidence management system Axon Evidence (Evidence.com) was approved on November 23, 2021. The ten-year agreement will cost a total of $22,085,575. The County negotiated a 0% financing with a year 1 total cost of $332,291.00.
Fort Bend County law enforcement agencies will be outfitted with 658 body-worn cameras, 424 fleet cameras for law enforcement vehicles, and 597 tasers. The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office will receive 441 body-worn cameras.
The Fort Bend County Fire Marshal’s Office will receive 21 body-worn cameras, 21 tasers, and 19 fleet cameras.
The secure online storage system will allow each law enforcement agency to have their own separate account; they will not have access to each other’s accounts allowing for the integrity of the evidence. Additionally, each law enforcement agency will be able to easily share videos with other law enforcement agencies, the district attorney, and the county attorney.