STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
LLANO — Llano County Sheriff’s Office deputies will arm themselves with high-tech body cameras and vehicle surveillance equipment to give them an edge in collecting evidence and during on-scene interactions, officials said.
The agency budgeted approximately $135,000 for 22 body cameras and to increase their count of vehicle cameras from eight to about a dozen more to synch with the body cameras.
“It makes for a lot more transparency,” Llano County Sheriff Bill Blackburn said. “It greatly benefits the officers because it portrays exactly what they see.”
Through the years, the sheriff has outfitted eight vehicles with Watchguard brand devices, costing approximately $4,800 each.
“We had to get (additional) money from another (budget) outlet and pay it out over three years so we can get the new equipment at once,” he said.
Officials will keep with the brand for the additional vehicle cameras, application system, and body cameras. The process stores audio and video information on a centralized server.
“We’ll have records of everything,” Blackburn said. “We’ll have a strict procedure on it.
“We’ve coordinated with the (district attorney’s) office on how it’s run,” he added. “It will also eliminate a lot of complaints (from witnesses on the scene).”
The devices may arrive sometime in April followed by deputy training on the system.
“They’ll possibly be in use by summer,” the sheriff said. “They are a definite advantage for law enforcement.”