(NEW YORK) — Law enforcement officials around the country are racing to purchase body cameras for their officers.
Officials in Texas’ Bexar County, which includes San Antonio,voted Tuesday to buy more body cameras for officers a day after cell phone video appeared to show sheriff deputies shooting a man with his hands up.
Taser, the largest manufacturer of the devices, says it’s had a 154 percent increase in sales in the past year.
The buying spree comes amid an environment where controversial police encounters continue to make headlines and cops are under ever increasing scrutiny.
Body cameras often vindicate police actions. In Palestine, Texas, for instance, a camera revealed that a suspect suddenly pulled a gun on officers as they were escorting him out of a bar.
Also, a routine traffic stop in Trinity, Texas, last week turned unexpectedly serious as on officer drew his firearm on the driver of a parked car. The police dash-cam video appeared to show the officer aggressively going for his gun at a startled man without provocation.
But the body camera showed a different vantage point and revealed that the officer suddenly saw a gun in the car.
“Is that a real gun right there?” the officer asked.
“No! Don’t you touch that gun! You keep your hands out of the car,” the driver responded.
Trinity Police Chief, Steven Jones, said he was thankful for the department’s new body cameras.
“If officer Wheeler would have shot the gentleman and all we had was our dash-car video,there would have been an outrage that officer Wheeler shot this unarmed man unjustly,” Jones said.
Many police departments across the country agree with Jones’ views on body camera expansion. Just this week, the Los Angeles Police Department and the New York Police Department also expanded their use.
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