HPD explores implementing body cameras

HARLINGEN — You won’t find a bigger fan of police body cameras than Police Chief Jeffry Adickes.

“I am a complete supporter of body cams for police officers. I support them 100 percent,” he said.

However, like Brownsville and McAllen, the Harlingen Police Department doesn’t have body cameras.

Brownsville is in the process of implementing them. And Harlingen is exploring the possibility of joining the ranks of other Valley departments that use them.

Whether Harlingen police will be wearing cameras anytime soon remains to be seen. The question is one of money.

It’s a question that Adickes and city commissioners will have to weigh when it comes to budget time.

Large police departments have the money to buy and maintain them, the chief said. Small departments can afford to buy maybe three to a dozen cameras.

But Harlingen falls somewhere in between, what Adickes calls a “mid range department” with an authorized strength of 146 officers.

“What we’re going to have to decide as a department and as a city is, is that the direction we’re going to go and be able to fund it in the short and long term,” the chief said.

“It becomes an issue of budget and manpower to manage the system.”

Adickes, a former Austin assistant police chief, knows the value of the cameras.

“Coming from Austin, my experience in what’s now the eleventh largest city in the country is video capture of officers’ actions supports very professional police work 99.9 percent of the time,” he said.

“It’s a great way to clarify when you do get an officer complaint to support the officer,” he said. Or, if warranted, it’s a way “to go back and review their actions and take follow-up action with the officer and their supervisor.”

He also calls police cams a “win-win” for the officer and the citizen who is being recorded.

“If you know you’re being video taped, you may be on your best behavior. The officer knows the video tape is occurring, so they’re going to be professional as well,” he said.

“So it’s a win-win in the overall exchange.”

Adickes is in the process of researching the possibility of bringing body cams to the department.

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