Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau has faced criticism for a delay in rolling out body cameras for her deputies. The sheriff said, however, the camera technology her department will soon use is state-of-the-art and has the capacity to do more than what is currently being done by the San Antonio Police Department body cameras.
“So the device is like a smart phone. It’s like an Internet of things. It’s tied into when we set business rules, when they are turned on and turned off. You know, it catalogs the information, so there is a great deal of more capability that we are getting," Pamerleau said.
The county's body cameras resemble a larger Android smart phone and are worn under an officer’s uniform, and the video is shot through a button hole.
Pamerleau says the device knows when a deputy is in need of backup because it senses when a deputy is no longer standing up straight.
“For instance, this device has a three-access accelerometer. Say one of my deputies is in a struggle and they go down, that device knows within a split-second that deputy is no longer vertical. So within a very short period of time it sends out a signal- officer down, need additional help- and has a GPS function that can track where the deputy is located," Pamerleau explained.
The body camera also automatically uploads the video to an offsite server and can broadcast an officer’s body camera live in real time.
“They’ve already been placed on order, they’ve already been shipped and in the next two months we will begin operational testing and validation of our policies, and then we will start phasing those in across all of patrols and our warrant deputies," Pamerleau said.
Pamerleau is determining when the device should be turned on by deputies and when their conversations are considered private. For now, the cameras, which are linked to a patrol car’s dash cam video, will automatically turn on when a deputy gets out of the car while on duty and during routine traffic stops.
Along with money from the county, Pamerleau said the Bexar County Sheriff's Office has received tentative approval for $400,000 in new grants available through the Governor’s office.