CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — The Marble Falls Police Department will purchase a state-of-the-art, integrated body and vehicle camera system to enhance evidence collection and keep officers “honest” on the scene.
Marble Falls police officials have combined grant, budget, and donation money to make the approximately $127,600 purchase.
On Feb. 21, resident Robert Ruff donated $50,000 toward the purchase of a body camera system for the Marble Falls Police Department, officials said.
Ruff was also instrumental in providing startup funding for the Westside dog park, which bears his name.
MFPD budgeted about $25,000 toward the purchase of the system and obtained a $50,000 grant along with the $50,000 donation.
The agency is expected to raise the remaining $4,000 within its budget.
Funding will pay for 15 systems to equip each officer.
“We’re making a move in the technological direction of body cameras. The citizen looks at it and says, ‘That recording keeps the officer honest from abusing any power,’” said Marble Falls Police Capt. Glenn Hanson. “The officer looks at it like this protects them from false accusations or any question of their actions.”
MFPD officers have used vehicle cameras since the 1990s. Currently, vehicle cameras offer a limited stationary collection of video data with audio.
Now, the agency will join other Burnet County agencies — the Bertram and Granite Shoals police departments — in the use of the body cameras but with an addition of the inter-connected vehicle and body camera single-server system.
“When an officer activates the overhead lights in a traffic stop, it will not only activate the camera in the car — that’s the way it works now — but it will also activate the camera on the officer’s body,” Hanson said.
The equipment could be in place sometime in 2017.
“Now, there will be video and audio right from the officer’s point of view because the camera will be on their chest,” Hanson said. “It really gives a much more robust capability to our video-recording system.”