Deputies in the Brown County Sheriff’s Department will soon be equipped with body cameras. During Monday morning’s meeting of the Brown County Commissioners, the court approved a $6,498 expenditure for the purchase of the cameras. Monies for the equipment will come from Chapter 59 funds, forfeiture money allotted by the district attorney’s office. After the approval of the expenditure, the Chapter 59 fund balance is $53,500.

Sheriff’s Department Captain Vance Hill discussed the cameras. “It is a video recording system that the deputies will wear on their uniforms. It will take the place of the microphone on their portable radio.” Hill explained the benefit of the equipment. “Anytime they are out of their vehicles speaking with offenders, victims, witnesses-there will be documentation of that contact.” The body cameras will be in addition to the dash cameras mounted in each patrol vehicle.

Hill said purchasing the cameras was crucial. “I think it is important that we have these cameras. A lot of times, we are working these domestics inside of a residence, and our camera is outside in our patrol car not capturing anything. With these cameras, we will have the documented offense or investigation with the deputy.”

Each deputy and patrol sergeant, a total of 11, will be outfitted with the new cameras. Each camera is $475 and equipped with GPS indicators, Infrared (for night video) and instant playback. Two smaller cameras, at a cost of $250 each will be purchased for the department’s two narcotics investigators. Hill said each camera could hold roughly four hours of video. Precinct 2 Commissioner Joel Kelton showed his support for the purchase. “The cameras will protect your deputies and everyone involved,” Kelton said. The court’s approval was unanimous.

Hill also presented the mandatory, yearly racial profiling report. According to 2014 numbers presented, 4,538 traffic stops were made by sheriff’s department personnel. Of those stops, Hill said, 284 received citations, 59 received warnings and 177 were arrested. Hill explained that 65.8% of the drivers stopped were white; 21.8% were Hispanic and six percent were black.

In other business:

* Approved a request by Precinct 4 Commissioner Larry Traweek to decrease the speed limit to 15 MPH for 1,000 feet where FM 2632 becomes CR 464.

* Approved an Interlocal agreement between Brown County and the City of Brady as well as Brady Independent School District. The agreement will see Brown County providing equipment and consultation for all elections in Brady for the remainder of 2015.

(Rick Phelps is the news director at KOXE)