Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar and the Commissioners Tribunal disagree again – this time over the department’s policy on body-worn cameras.

Salazar pleaded publicly in the commissioners’ tribunal on Monday, urging members to consider a request for nearly $ 9.5 million to replace the body-worn camera and the ministry’s taser equipment.

Salazar said the new equipment would allow the department to update its body-worn camera policy and post footage of major incidents within 30 days, increasing transparency.

“We don’t have the staff or the technology to do it at this point,” Salazar said. “We realize this is a pretty ambitious change,… but we think we can if the Stewards can help us with this equipment upgrade.”

Salazar said he realized the need for new equipment during a regular review of the department’s body camera policy. He said he wanted to update the agency’s policy to follow best practices, but realized he couldn’t do so without additional funding.

He said he had tried several times since June to bring the request to the Commissioners Tribunal, to no avail.

But Ward 3 commissioner Trish DeBerry said the idea originally came from the commissioners. She said the court urged the sheriff’s office to update its policy on releasing body camera images after two families sued the county alleging, in part, that the sheriff’s office refused to hand over body-worn camera images as required by law.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said the old Tasers used by his deputies were almost worn out.

Billy Calzada / Personal Photographer

She said she has frequently urged the sheriff’s office to update its release policy to align with other major departments, including the San Antonio Police Department, which posts footage of some incidents in the 60 days.

She said Bexar County should not consider the sheriff’s request until he finalizes the policy.

Instead, she introduced a resolution that would force the sheriff’s office, agent offices and the fire marshal’s office to update their policies on showing body camera images.

The tribunal of commissioners is expected to vote on the resolution on Tuesday.

Salazar said the department already had to replace its Tasers – more than 70% are “end-of-life” – and that Axon, which manufactures both pieces of equipment, has offered to do it all at the same time at a reduced price, thus saving the count. $ 1.3 million in the long run.

He said the offer expires on December 31.

“It’s a big amount of money now, but it represents a saving over the next few years,” said Salazar. “Not only will our Tasers be updated, but our cameras will also be updated. “

He said the sheriff’s office hired two “video librarians” in 2019 as part of a grant program to help sort body camera images and blur or redacted information that cannot be released under. state law, such as images of minors and license plates.

He said the county froze those positions during the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing the sheriff’s office from sorting out the large volume of footage. He urged the Commission of Commissioners to unblock these positions as well.

He said the new body cameras have technology that automatically masks the faces of minors. He said it would help his staff deal with the high volume of footage as well.

“We are excited about this,” Salazar said. “We think we can do it, if the Commissioners Tribunal helps us.”

Editor-in-chief Scott Huddleston contributed to this report

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