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New body cam law will standardize law enforcement operations across the state

Bishop PD body cam.jpg
Posted at 3:43 PM, Sep 07, 2021

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On Sept. 1, “Bo’s Law” went into effect in Texas. The law is named after Botham Jean, who was killed in his apartment in 2018 by off-duty police officer Amber Guyger.

Part of the law will require police officers across the state to have their body cameras on at all times when conducting an investigation. For some local agencies, like Bishop Police Department, the law will not change how the department operates, as officers were already required to wear body cameras.

“Our policy and procedure is going to remain the same as it’s always been. This new law doesn’t change anything with our agency. I think what it does do is streamlines, now that it’s legislation across the board, to where all agencies are going to have the same guidelines, instead of referring to their own policies and procedures,” said Bishop Police Chief Edward Day.

Day said BPD has had a body camera policy for around four years. He also said body cameras are helpful for officers, as they act as an ‘extra set of eyes.’

“When you go in front of a courtroom with a jury, they can actually see what the officer was seeing, it’s not just the officer’s testimony, but now you have a first-hand account of what actually occurred on the scene. So, it helps with prosecution of cases, it helps lower officer complaints, if somebody knows they’re being recorded, they’re less likely to say something occurred that didn’t actually occur out there. Or, if an accusation is made, investigators within the department can refer to that officer’s body cam and actually see what happened,” he said.

Day said body cameras are a must in today’s day and age. He also said, while the wording in the law is broad as to what an investigation is, officers will have to have body cameras on for a lot of things they do.

“Anything that an officer is doing where they’re acting in their capacity as a peace officer, that’s non-consensual, that may result in criminal charges, that’s going to be an investigation,” he said.

In the year’s BPD has used body cameras, Day said the have been viewed positively by his officers.

“Overall, it’s a benefit, I haven’t seen any officers, personally, that are discouraged from using body cameras. I think it helps them, it protects them, it allows them to do their jobs better, and it helps with prosecutions,” he said.