TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) will soon be getting new dashboard and body cameras, after the county judge said we were at a “crisis” point because the old systems have been malfunctioning. The crisis was averted after funding for the $1.8 million project was recently approved.

While things like eyewitness accounts and DNA evidence are important in deciphering what really happened at a crime scene, one piece of evidence is becoming crucial in a courtroom, and that is camera footage – as according to Taylor County Sheriff Ricky Bishop.

“Unfortunately, the day and times that we’re in now is that if it’s not on video, it didn’t happen at the courthouse,” said Sheriff Bishop. 

When the sheriff’s office started dealing with its dashboard and body camera systems malfunctioning, it became a problem that the Taylor County judge called a “crisis” at the October 10 commissioners court meeting. 

Judge Phil Crowley told KTAB/KRBC he agreed with Sheriff Bishop on how important these cameras are, because before Crowley was county judge, he was an assistant district attorney for Taylor County. 

“That body camera evidence makes or breaks cases,” Judge Crowley explained. “I can speak from experience on that.”

This is why Crowley encouraged commissioners to approve funding for new equipment; a project that will cost $1,770,000 over the course of five years.

“You ask people, you know, why they pay county taxes, and I think they’re going to tell you, ‘well I’m paying for deputies and the sheriff’s office, I’m paying for the jail, and I’m paying for the district attorney’s office and the court system,’ and body cameras and dashboard cameras are just an integral part of that system,” expanded Judge Crowley.

Although this is an expensive system, Sheriff Bishop said these cameras allow him to he pull up any deputy’s body camera footage from his phone, whether it is on or not. 

“You know, it not only protects the public, but it protects our officers, too. For, you know, people who want to file complaints, and we’ve got the videos right there to show what took place,” Sheriff Bishop said. 

Other upgrades are coming along with the new system, such as a license plate reader. This reader will be able to help officers know if a car is stolen or help during an amber alert situation. 

Judge Crowley said these updates are sure to be beneficial as a whole, “I just want the taxpayers to get the full benefit of what they’re paying for.”

These new cameras should be at the Sheriff’s Office before the end of this year. 

The Commissioner’s Court also approved funding for replacing the jail roof and for repairing the elevators in the Taylor County Plaza Building.