DALLAS — The police department is phasing in new patrol cars without in-car cameras — a technology that police, prosecutors and the public have come to rely on as irrefutable evidence whether someone has committed wrongdoing.
"We don't just release the tapes that put us in a good light," Assistant Chief Floyd Simpson told News 8. "We also release tapes that will show the public things that our officers have done in ways that we hoped they could have done them better."
One infamous video revealed poor judgment by Officer Robert Powell in March 2009 as he berated pro football player Ryan Moats, who was racing to the hospital to see his dying mother-in-law.
Cameras captured another incident last month when a drunk off-duty officer, Kelly Beemer, fired a weapon in the back of a patrol car when officers were driving her home.
The in-car cameras also clear cops of wrongdoing and are valuable evidence against criminals.
But a memo obtained by The Dallas Morning News reveals the department has been asking for new cameras for months. DPD said its existing ones are plagued with server failures, audio problems, and uploading issues.
The memo reveals that police asked the city last year to put out bids for newer, more reliable technology, but it's a request that has yet to be met.
Mayor Pro-Tem Dwaine Caraway said the city needs to act immediately.
"It is imperative that they are the right cameras — durable cameras that will last and do the job — because those cameras protect our officers and also play a very important part on evidence in cases that go before the court," he said.
The city told The Dallas Morning News it will request bids for new cameras in the coming weeks, but it could take an additional month to start installing a new product.
Right now, at least 69 new DPD cruisers don't have cameras, and almost a dozen new patrol cars go into service weekly.