HPD Tests Tasers With Cameras

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt says his department is testing a new generation of taser guns that record both audio and video whenever the weapon is discharged. Here's more from Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams

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The chief says the department has 20 of the new Tasers, equipped with small video cameras and audio recorders that document incidents in which the weapons are used.

"The will record audio and video up to one and one-half hours. The original model that we got did not have this capability and the only difference between the ability to record audio and video is the battery pack is a little different than the original model that we purchased. They also cost about $400 more."

In 2004, the department bought almost 4000 Tasers that don't have the audio and visual capabilities. Since then, they've been used hundreds of times to subdue suspects without using lethal force. Hurtt says it's important to have a visual record of Taser incidents to make sure officers are adhering to department policy when they use them.

"We see that as very valuable in being able to record the voice exchange between the suspect and the officer as well as observing the suspect's behavior prior to the deployment of the Taser."

Hurtt says it would cost about $1.5 million dollars to add Tasers with cameras to the force, something he says the department can't afford right now.

Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...