Cameras coming to police boats

April 10, 2009 9:03:31 PM PDT
Eyewitness News is taking a look at new technology which will soon be looking at boaters on the waters of Montgomery County. It's an effort to crack down on those who have had too much to drink.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

After years of being on the water, Lt. Bryan DuBose has a trained eye.

"We're looking for any reckless or negligent operation," said DuBose of the Montgomery County Precinct 1 Constable's Office.

Soon he'll have some backup.

"The camera will be mounted on the pole here so it has a driver's view, so it's looking at what we're looking at," said DuBose.

Just in time for the beginning of this year's boating rush, all police boats on Lake Conroe will be outfitted with cameras.

They are commonplace in patrol cars, capturing even controversial incidents. They'll soon be the norm on the water, too.

"It sort of brings us in line with the technology we have on highways and freeways right now, where the officer out here it's not just his word against somebody else's word," said Constable Don Chumley of Montgomery County Precinct 1.

County officials came up with the $20,000 and it is part of a bigger push by the Montgomery County district attorney to crack down on drunk drivers. Not just on the roads, but also the water.

"I think it's going to enhance the jury's understanding," said Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon. "What was it the officer saw on the scene, did you see the red blood shot eyes? Could you hear the slurred speech? All the things that help and enhance a DWI prosecution and a BWI prosecution are really just the tools we want to give back to local law enforcement."

Last year, there were ten reported accidents on Lake Conroe resulting in two fatalities. In 2007, there were six accidents and three fatalities. Alcohol played a part in all the deaths.

A successful season is no accidents say those who patrol the lake. They hope their new technology becomes a deterrent for those who want to drink and drive a boat.

"Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, a video's worth more," said State Game Warden Dean Fitzpatrick.

The cameras will record both audio and video. The officers we spoke to couldn't tell us exactly when all the boats will be outfitted, but they say definitely before Memorial Day weekend.

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