(Sugar Land, TX, 6/23/2020) – After studying Sheriff Troy Nehls’ policies in Fort Bend county on body cameras, we have concluded that there is poor implementation of body camera usage within officers, and no enforcement requiring increased usage or punishing the lack thereof. Just three weeks ago, an officer shot and killed another officer in our very own county and this incident was not recorded as “Rule apparently was wearing a body camera, but the other deputies were not, according to the Nehls brothers” (Goodman). The fact that our own sheriff admitted to this, but there wasn’t public action taken, is problematic.
Implementation of body camera usage on police officers has been shown in various studies to be effective in reducing police brutality, increasing compliance with officer orders, increasing trust between community members and the police, and reducing complaints made against the policy. A study cited by the US department of justice police executive research forum showed that there was a “60 percent reduction in officer use of force incidents following camera deployment, and during the experiment, the shifts without cameras experienced twice as many use of force incidents as shifts with cameras. The study also found that there was an 88 percent reduction in the number of citizen complaints between the year prior to camera implementation and the year following deployment” (Miller). Studies also show that support for body cameras is bipartisan, and “according to December 2014 polling by the Pew Research Center, 79% of Republicans, 90% of Democrats, and 88% of Independents support more BWCs on police officers” (Kreager) Senate Bill 158 implemented a policy on body camera implementation to be enacted around the state. It allowed for $10 million for grants to be given to agencies to buy body cameras and has policies in place to ensure that citizens have access to the footage that is recorded at a cost. We the citizens demand that this footage is stored for 90 days as per the legislature, and given to us at a minimal cost upon request. We also demand that the sheriff’s office enforce carrying of and usage of body cameras and implement penalties in cases where they are not used. As our very own Sugar Land police chief has stated, “‘We recognized six to seven years ago the importance of having body cameras not only to support our officers, but to support our community and our citizens,” Robins said at a recent city council meeting” (Nix). The funding can be done with grants and the support of the community, but it is imperative that this is a step we take to ensure accountability in the police force.
There will be a demonstration organized by Muhammad Khan, Rami Alakeel, Katherine Yeager, and Sam
Capocyan on Friday, June 26, 2020, from Fort Bend residents demanding change to be implemented with regards to police accountability. It will be in front of the sheriff’s office (1840 Richmond Parkway) from 6-9 PM. Visit rb.gy/xi7vly for more information.