Houston police gain powerful new weapon to help settle disputes

'Bodycams' are expected to help show what happens during officers' interactions with public and suspects
December 18, 2013 3:57:41 PM PST
It doesn't fire bullets, but it could be a powerful weapon for both law enforcement and the people police encounter.

About 100 "bodycams" are now being worn by Houston police officers. The devices, which are about the size of pagers, record both audio and video. The vantage point is beneath the officer's upper chest, attached to the uniform.

HPD Chief Charles McClelland says he expects the devices to cut down on the number of internal affairs complaints, because the camera will be an unblinking witness to the encounters between police and people they encounter during service calls.

Such a device, he believes, would have prevented the beating of teenage burglar Chad Holley. The incident that cost several officers their jobs was recorded on surveillance video at a neighboring business.

Asset forfeiture money paid for some 200 bodycams. Ultimately, McClelland hopes, all officers will be equipped with a camera.

The video/audio has to be downloaded. If the camera is turned off during a stop or service call, the officer has to explain why it was not in operation.

See the bodycam for yourself today on live at 5 and at 6:30. And if you're stopped -- be polite. You may well be on camera.

Find Deborah on Facebook at ABC13DeborahWrigley or on Twitter at @wrigleyabc13

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