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Date last updated: Friday, July 22, 15:23 PST

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Texas law enforcement seeks grant for cameras

By Greg Kendall-Ball
Abilene Reporter-News

ABILENE, Texas — The Abilene Police Department and the Taylor County Sheriff's Office have applied for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Grant Program, seeking nearly $60,000 that would be split between the two agencies.

Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge said the department applies for the grant every year and for the past two years, the funds have been used exclusively for outfitting APD vehicles with Digital Mobile Video Recorders, the dashboardmounted camera system.

Sheriff Les Bruce said the funds also would be used for cameras in deputies' cars.

Assistant Chief Mike Perry is coordinating the switch from the old analog cameras to the new digital ones for the police department.

"The main selling point of the system we're using now is that it has a fail-safe recorder that is always on. There are two hard drives recording video - one in the center console that records whenever the system is activated, and one in the trunk, that records everything," Perry said.

This would allow officers to retrieve video footage they would not have with the previous system. "Let's say an officer is driving along and gets a call to respond to a bank robbery in progress. And let's say a call goes out with a description of a vehicle involved. Under the old system, the camera would only have been activated when he responded to the call. With the failsafe system, if he passed that vehicle five minutes before the call went out, we'd be able to get that footage off the hard drive in the trunk," Perry said.

The digital systems, which produce higher quality video than the VHS systems, also embed metadata - information about the vehicle's speed, its location, the time of day and so on - directly in the video, something the analog systems could not do.

Perry said it could take a few months to find out if the grant application is approved. If it is, every APD patrol unit should be outfitted with the new digital cameras by the end of the year.

Bruce said he hopes the funds come through again this year.

"The Byrne grant has helped this agency to afford much-needed in-car video cameras, which are an essential part of today's law enforcement vehicle package," Bruce said.

Copyright 2011 The E.W. Scripps Company

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