AUSTIN – State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) is optimistic that Texas Governor Greg Abbott will give his stamp of approval on Senate Bill 158 that establishes a statewide policy for body worn cameras by law enforcement. Last Monday’s vote by the Texas House of Representatives moves SB158 by Senator West one step closer to final approval. SB158 passed out of the House on a vote of 135-4. On April 23, SB158 passed the Texas Senate by a final vote of 22-8. When finally approved, SB158 will also provide assistance for the purchase of body cameras through a grant program that would be administered through the governor’s office. Local police and sheriff’s departments will be eligible to apply for grant funding.
“After months of planning, outreach and discussion, we have cleared yet another hurdle on the way to full passage of body camera legislation in Texas,” said Senator West. “With the passage of the bill from both chambers now complete procedural votes remaining, the next big step for SB158 is its approval by the governor. SB158 has been a collaborative effort and we have continued to rely on the input and energy of the many stakeholders who have helped us to craft what for now, might be the most comprehensive body camera legislation in the nation.”
Beginning in February, Senator West assembled a stakeholder workgroup comprised of law enforcement administration and labor organizations, sheriff’s departments, city and county organizations, advocacy groups, prosecutors and defense attorneys. Using the filed version of SB158 as a starting point, the group discussed issues including open records, privacy, records retention, local policies, funding and data management concerns. Senator West appreciates the work of Rep. Allen Fletcher in guiding SB158 through the Texas House. Senator West worked effectively with Senate leaders, the Lt. Governor, House leadership and the Office of the Governor to secure $10 million in state funding for the matching grant program.