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San Antonio

Bexar County Sheriff’s Office To Enter Negotiations For Body Cam, Taser Upgrades

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Ryan Loyd | Texas Public Radio
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Bexar County Courthouse

Bexar County Commissioners on Tuesday directed Sheriff Javier Salazar to enter negotiations with the current contractor for upgrades to sync body cameras with tasers worn by deputies.

Salazar told commissioners the upgrades will make deputies more accountable.

“If a deputy responds to 10 calls for service and on five of those the system determines that he should have turned on his body camera, yet he didn’t, a flag goes off to the supervisor that says hey you are not deploying your body camera properly,” the sheriff said.

Salazar said the upgrades automatically turns on cameras when a taser is deployed and renders a taser useless if it's taken from a deputy.

In other action, commissioners allocated nearly $4 million to address mental health issues and substance abuse triggered by the pandemic.

They also approved an additional $1.4 million in COVID-19 relief funds for bars and restaurants, another $1 million to Community Labs for testing and another $1.5 million for rental support.

County Economic Development Director David Marquez said most of those additional funds were simply reallocated from relief funds that went unspent on elections or by suburban cities.

The county received $79 million from the federal government for COVID relief under the CARES Act.

Elsewhere on the agenda, commissioners approved a $5 million grant to commercial truck maker Navistar to connect it to local infrastructure.

Construction continues on the $250 million plant near Mitchell Lake on the South Side that promises to create 561 well-paid jobs.

County Economic Development Director David Marquez said the grant was part of the incentives used to lure Navistar to the site.

“The site will require a segment of a future planned Kelly Parkway to be built that gives them access to the south side of their site. The site also does not have gas and for this type of manufacturing facility for the paint shop, a gas line is essential,” said Marquez.

The plant is scheduled to be completed in the Spring of 2022.

County Commissioners also approved a two year contract extension for County Manager David Smith, the county’s first ever county manager. He has filled the post since its creation in 2011. Smith’s annual pay is slightly more than $284,000.

They also directed staff to continue progress on a nearly $13 million project to advance Bulverde Road from Marshall Road and extend it north by 1.2 miles. The roadway will be expanded from two to four lanes and include sidewalks.

The court also gave a $1 million grant to VelocityTX to assist with the conversion of the Merchant’s Ice and Storage property on East Houston into a Biomed and Technology Innovation Center to provide entrepreneurs and start-ups with resources.

Commissioners also adopted an immediate ban on certain fireworks because of recent dry weather. The ban applies to rockets with sticks or missiles with fins that could spark brush and grass fires.

It was the last meeting for Commissioners Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez and Kevin Wolff, the son of County Judge Nelson Wolff and the lone Republican on the court. Rodriguez was not re-elected and Wolff did not seek re-election. Rodriguez has served 16 years on the court. Wolff was first elected commissioner in 2012.

Rodriguez will be replaced in Precinct 1 by Rebeca Clay-Flores and Wolff will be succeeded in Precinct 3 by Trish DeBerry.

Rodriguez was praised for his role in the development of Alamo Ranch, the Mission Reach on the San Antonio River, improvements to South Side transportation, and the county’s first all digital library, the Bibliotech on Pleasanton Road.

Wolff, a Navy veteran, was honored for his dedication to veterans issues and the county’s veteran services center, the creation of the county manager’s office, and as a leader on major transportation projects. He also served on the court when it approved the first county property tax decrease in a decade.

Wolff and Rodriguez both said they have more time to spend with their families and go fishing and hunting together.

The court will next meet again in January 2021.

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