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Government/Politics

Lawmakers In The Texas Senate Pass Police Body Cam Bill

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Ryan E. Poppe

A bill that passed out of the Texas Senate on Thursday would require all police departments use state guidelines if they are using body cameras to monitor their officers’ activities. The legislation by Dallas Democratic Sen. Royce West is in response to the growing number of police shootings throughout the country, which, he said, have eroded how people feel about the criminal justice system, specifically as it relates to law enforcement.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
Dallas Democratic Sen. Royce West, author of SB 158

  “People act different on camera, even on this floor, we act different because people are looking at us.  And so you get a reduction in the number of complaints against police officers, you get a reduction in the number of cases where police officers are using force. We must restore creditability and trust in our law enforcement agencies,” West told his Senate colleagues. 

The bill sets up a $10 million grant program for smaller cities that may not be able to afford a body camera program, with the promise of adding even more money as an incentive of outfitting more police agencies in the state. But Some of West’s fellow senators have concerns about how the bill affects police departments that have already set up their own policies and body camera system.  

Brenham Republican Sen. Lois Kolkorst is one of eight senators who supports body cameras, but still voted against the bill. “And my thought is that if you don’t take grant money, if you take no money from the State of Texas and you are doing it with your city tax dollars or your county tax dollars, then the policy should be dictated from those governing bodies, not the state,” Kolkhorst explained. 

The bill passed out of the Senate on a vote of 22 to 8 and now heads over the House.