Fort Bend County commissioners will once again consider a policy that would require county law enforcement officers to wear body cameras while on duty — even though some constables say the commissioners’ court doesn’t have the authority to mandate such a policy.
The policy is on the agenda for Tuesday’s commissioners’ court meeting, taking place at 1 p.m. at the Fort Bend County Courthouse.
This is the second time that county commissioners will attempt to pass a body-camera policy. The first attempt was pulled from the agenda on May 4 after Precinct 2 Constable Daryl Smith and Precinct 3 Constable Chad Norvell both expressed in the media that the policy was an overreach by County Judge KP George and the commissioners. Both Smith and Norvell have said that they support their officers wearing body cameras, but do not want their officers disciplined by the county for violating the policy.
The new policy now says that it “does not supersede or remove the legal sphere of authority that an elected official of a law enforcement agency in Fort Bend County has to either accept or reject body-worn cameras and this policy.”
Fort Bend County sheriff’s deputies and constables do not wear body cameras, but that is expected to change in the next few months, as the county has ordered body cameras and equipment.
The policy also states that the cameras will be funded from “non-departmental contingency funds and/or grants” and not by any individual department.
Also, so that the cameras can be possibly funded by federal grants, the policy could be changed by future federal regulations.
Like the older policy, the new body-camera policy defines when body cameras should be on or off, what kind of training should be used, and what the procedure should be to release the recordings to the public.
The Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office or the County Attorney’s Office will handle requests to release body camera video.