SAN ANTONIO – The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office has entered its second phase of deploying body-worn cameras to deputies and expects to have a total of 52 cameras in use among the force by the first two weeks of November.
As of Wednesday, the Sheriff's Office had 12-15 body cameras on its deputies and 4 or 5 new cameras in patrol cars, according to Robert Adelman, BCSO public safety communications manager, who is overseeing the camera installation.
In May, the Sheriff's Office received the 300 body cameras it had purchased. The department has 230 in-car cameras to install.
“This is not a simple body camera project,” Adelman said. “For us, it’s not just issuing out cameras to officers. It’s issuing cameras to officers, training them on how to use it and also installing the technology on the cars because everything has to work together.”
The body cameras and in-car cameras are linked, so when the deputy gets out of the patrol car while responding to an incident, the body camera automatically starts recording.
“The officer still has control. He has a Bluetooth control that he will wear on his wrist,” Adelman said.
The camera itself is worn inside the officer's uniform.
"It cannot be knocked off by a subject you're dealing with because it’s inside the uniform. It’s safe (and) secure there,” said Lt. Augustine Pruneda, who works in the BCSO Traffic Safety Unit.
The new cameras also allow video to be wirelessly uploaded.
“As the officer is actively recording, say, a five-minute traffic stop, one minute into that, his video is already being uploaded to the cloud,” Adelman said.
Finding a place where that video can be viewed as evidence by the Bexar County District Attorney's Office is yet another challenge.
The county purchased a cloud storage system from Microsoft to create a cloud-based digital evidence import system, which is expected to be up and running in spring 2017. Until then, the Sheriff's Office will hold off on issuing the remaining 248 body cameras to deputies.
In a recent sheriff's race debate on KSAT.com, Sheriff Susan Pamerleau said a total of 50 body cameras would be deployed by the end of October.
Adelman said those cameras should be deployed by the first two weeks of November.
The 52 body cameras currently being deployed will be distributed among BCSO’s Special Operations, which is comprised of traffic patrol, street crimes deputies and K-9 teams.