Fort Bend County wants county-wide body cam policy, but some fear it goes too far

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Before more body cameras arrive at Fort Bend County law enforcement agencies, commissioners want a county-wide policy, but local enforcement members fear it's going too far.

In Fort Bend County, there's no disagreement between local leaders and law enforcement about the use of body cameras. There is disagreement about whether the policy should be set at the county level on how the cameras are used.

"Definitely should be a county policy," Richmond resident, Gregory Madu said. "I think literally everywhere, they should make it mandatory."

"We can't dictate what agencies should and should not do," Fort Bend County resident, Lamarcus Smith said. "In my opinion, they should have body cameras just to protect that officer and civilian."

On Tuesday, commissioners were set to vote on a policy for any officer who uses a camera funded with county money. It's a proposal that brought constables from precincts one, two and three together to stand against it.

"Very few participated because we felt it was outside of his lane," Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Constable Chad Norvell explained. "It's not something he needs to worry about. There are lots of things the county judge and commissioner's court should be focusing on and law enforcement matter isn't one of them."

"Why have a county policy wide and you're going to put in a disciplinary action in your policy that you cannot carry out," Fort Bend County Precinct Two Constable, Daryl Smith explained.

The policy states officers have to attend training, turn on the camera for several reasons, and violators could be suspended. The Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office doesn't have cameras, but officials told ABC13 Tuesday the agency could select a vendor by next month. They said the county-wide proposal will help them move forward as the cameras arrive.

"I don't have a problem with someone giving me an overarching guideline," Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy, Mattie Provost explained. "We looked at it. We were able to work with that guideline, but we added more to it that was specific to our agency."

County commissioners pulled the item Tuesday, and plan to have more discussions before a vote.

"The purpose is not to tell another agency what they should do," Fort Bend County Judge KP George explained.

But constables fear it does, and may lead to leaders trying to control other police policies in the future.

"The county judge can't even fire one of my employees," Norvell said. "I don't know why we would adopt a policy which dictates any kind of suspension or termination."

These are concerns the judge said he wants to hear before a body cam policy comes up for a vote at a future meeting. If you want to read the proposed policy, visit the county's website. It's unclear if commissioners will take this item up at the next meeting.

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