WAXAHACHIE — The Ellis County Commissioners Court approved an agreement for the sheriff’s office to enter into a one-year trial for the use of body cameras from Axon, formally Taser International, at Tuesday's morning meeting. The cameras will be both used by deputies and the staff at the Wayne McCollum Detention Center.
“What this agreement is a one year trial for the use of our agency including all of our deputies and all of our jail staff, to have the opportunity to use the Axon Body 2 cameras,” Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Chris Hamilton said. “There is no cost incurred as far as the initial year as far as data storage. All of the accounts and the equipment is provided and installation on site is done by (Axon).”
Hamilton stated that this trial year would allow the county if they like the system and to see how much data is used for storage for video footage. He noted that body cameras are something that the sheriff's office has needed for a while.
Ellis County Judge Carol Bush asked what happens with the data stored by Axon on its cloud system if the county decided to use another company or product.
Hamilton told the court that Axon is not going to keep the county’s digital evidence and it would come back to the county.
According to Axon’s website, the one-year trial offer seeks to provide a camera to every sworn officer in the country. At the end of the trial if the agency decides to opt out a team from Axon will export the data into the system of an agency’s choosing. The company will also never charge an agency to access or share any data that must be retained for the purposes of prosecution or investigation.
Commissioner’s approved the purchase of Guard1 from Time Keeping System, Inc. for the Wayne McCollum Detention Center. Presenting the item to the court was sheriff’s office Chief Deputy Terry Ogden.
“Timekeeping systems is the way for us to take our hourly checks that the jail commission requires us to do, 30-minute checks, taking it from paper form to digital electronic form,” Ogden explained. “It will also help us get into compliance with the jail commission when they start making changes because of the Sandra Bland Act. The funds are coming out of commissary as a way to pay for it without using any budget money.”
A Texas Tribune article states that the act would mandate that county jails divert people with mental health and substance abuse issues toward treatment, make it easier for defendants with a mental illness or intellectual disability to receive a personal bond and require that independent law enforcement agencies investigate jail deaths.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Bland was pulled over by a Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper on July 10, 2015, for failing to adequately signal a lane change. The trooper arrested Bland after an argument. She was found dead in her cell at the Walter County Jail three days later.
Ellis County Judge Bush stated that this system would be paid for through commissary funds, which are collected and can be used for any type of activity or something that benefits the inmate population. The cost of this system is $14,600.
In other business commissioners,
• Took no action on a replat of a single lot in the Morgan Creek subdivision into two lots located on 4.18 acres located on the east side of Norrell Road and North of Marion Road in Precinct 4.
• Approved for Ellis County Judge Carol Bush to sign a renewal agreement with simplex Grinnel for the Sheriff’s office and jail for $38,070.38.
• Took no action on the updates to the standardized the bid package that was approved on Dec. 10, 2012.
• Approved the departmental transfer of a 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe from the Fire Marshal’s Office to the Sheriff’s Office, which will be used by the agency’s crime scene technician.
• Approved the payment of $12,267.67 to Bancorp South for the leased 2017 Mack dump truck for Road and Bridge Precinct 3. This payment is the depreciation and the interest over the next year for this dump truck.
• Took no action to enact a burn ban.
• Approved the application of Anthony Salles Modesto Jr. to serve on the Emergency Services District 4 Board to fill an unexpired term ending on Dec. 31.
• Heard a report from County Human Resources Director Theresa Taylor on compensatory time.
• Took no action in the case of Thomas McCollum vs. South Ellis County Water Corporation and the county.