Commissioners hear presentation on body cams

By Chris Edwards

A nascent technology, which Sheriff Woody Wallace referred to as a “new craze”, might be coming to Trinity County soon.

Body cams, which are high-quality video-capture devices worn on the body by law enforcement personnel, might be required gear for LEOs in the near future, according to Sheriff Wallace; a possible future requirement for agencies to secure state funding.

Sheriff Wallace and Susie Hammond were on hand during Monday morning’s meeting of the Trinity County Commissioners’ Court to ask for approval for the application of an e-grant for the body cams. Sheriff Wallace said that if the grant is approved and the cameras are purchased, they will be provided to the Sheriff’s Department and the four county constables. 

Hammond, who is working with the sheriff to research and secure the grant funds, answered some questions about the method of data storage and maintenance for the equipment. She said that after being purchased and set up, the cameras would have enough storage capacity for three years worth of footage. She said that the grant that TCSO is looking to apply for is a matched funding grant, with a 20% match to the county, which would come to a total of $7,500.  Hammond drew from her previous experience in securing a similar grant for Houston County to explain how the grant works.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Grover “Tiger” Worsham asked questions about technical issues with the cameras, and said that the topic was something that previously had been addressed at the state level, but had yet to become a requirement for law enforcement agencies. Sheriff Wallace said that although he wasn’t the biggest fan of body cams, he has seen instances where they could be of help. They are especially helpful, as Precinct 2 Commissioner Rich Chamberlin noted, for maintaining transparency among departments. 

The grant application was approved by the court by way of a motion from Commissioner Worsham and a second by Commissioner Smith.

In other items of business on the agenda:

•Commissioners voted to restore the funds to the office of new Precinct 1 Constable Tommy Park. Park, who was elected to the office in the last election, replaced Rusty Barrett. The monies for that office’s budget had been redacted due to inactivity.

•Susanne Waller of the Trinity County Historical Commission spoke to the court about the appointment of officers and members for TCHC’s 2017-18 term. The appointments were approved by the commissioners. Waller also spoke about a few historical markers that TCHC is working on securing for sites such as the site of a CCC camp near Trinity, the Glendale Congregational Methodist Church, and the boyhood home in Trinity of the late, long-serving congressman Charlie Wilson.

•The approval of a service provider agreement between the Centerville Water Supply Corporation and Trinity County. Documents outlining each party’s responsibilities in a 2017-18 Texas Community Development Block Grant program grant were given to commissioners for review. The grand funds, which can be secured for up to $275,000 would be used to construct water system improvements, if awarded. The designation of Trinity County Judge Doug Page as authorized signatory for the grant process was also approved.

•A public hearing was scheduled for February 27 to extend the Texas Transportation Code laws to all roads within the Westwood Shores subdivision. 

•A public hearing for February 13 was scheduled to determine a reasonable maximum speed for vehicles traveling Martin Thompson Road and Evans Road. Commissioner Smith noted that complaints had recently arisen about 18-wheeler traffic along the roads, due to recent drilling activity.

•Commissioners also approved bonds of $5,000 apiece for Commissioners Worsham and Smith, who were recently sworn-in to begin their newly elected terms.