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Severe T'storm Watch until 9 pm   

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Body cameras approved for Taylor County Sheriff's Office

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ABILENE, Texas - Taylor County commissioners unanimously approved funding for the Taylor County Sheriff's Office to purchase body cameras Tuesday.

County taxpayers will only be responsible for 25 percent of the $14,000 purchase, thanks to a grant provided by the state Criminal Justice Division that will provide 75 percent of the needed funds.

"With this grant, we're going to completely fund our patrol division," Sgt. Craig Griffis said. "Every officer will have their own unit that is assigned to them – we'll also have a few leftover cameras for any new hires that come."

Giffis, who has been with the department for more than 20 years, was one of the officers in the county to use dashboard cameras. He recalled some officers' trepidation about the devices.

"When I first got a [dashboard camera], we looked at it as a tattle tale – within a week it became a great asset and great tool, and officers embraced it," Griffis said.

Unlike his initial response to the dash cameras, Griffis said he's excited about the body cameras and the alternative perspectives that the cameras will add.He said jurors, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges all think body camera footage is valuable evidence.

Griffis said the department is purchasing Coban ECHO cameras for their versatility.

"One of the other pluses on this particular system is that it also has an external camera that has all of the same functions, so the officer can actually wear the main unit on his belt and then position the smaller camera unit on his body," Giffis said.

He said the feature would be handy if the deputy gets in a physical struggle. If the two cameras become disconnected, the external camera will automatically start recording.

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