The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office has perhaps one final hurdle to clear before outfitting patrol deputies with body camera equipment.
About two months after Sheriff Vic Regalado told The Frontier that TCSO hoped to announce plans to purchase the cameras before the end of 2016, the sheriff’s office on Monday made a request to apply for a grant to purchase about 50 of the video recorders.
The request, submitted to Tulsa County Commissioners, asks for permission to to apply for the “U.S. Department of Justice FY2017 Competitive Grant Announcement for a Body Worn Camera Policy
and Implementation Program.”
Commissioners unanimously approved the request.
Should TCSO receive the grant, they plan to outfit “at least” 50 deputies with body-worn cameras. The deadline for the grant is Feb. 16. Awarded grants will be announced this summer.
Last December, Regalado said he thought TCSO had found “a creative way” to fund the purchase of what he called “much-needed” body cameras. At the time, he said he hoped to announce the plan in a press conference before the end of 2016. However, that press conference never materialized.
It’s unclear if the proposed grant is the same method Regalado, who was unavailable for comment on Monday, previously mentioned in December.
Regalado has pledged to be more transparent as sheriff than his predecessor Stanley Glanz, who was indicted and ultimately pleaded no contest to a charge of not turning over public records related to Bates. However Regalado has also refused to turn over to the media surveillance videos which allegedly show inmates being injured in the jail.
The Frontier currently has a lawsuit pending in Tulsa District Court against Regalado and the sheriff’s office over the release of some of those videos.
The Tulsa Police Department is in the midst of a gradual rollout of their body cameras, having received a $600,000 grant in 2015. However, TPD purchased hundreds of the cameras to outfit their patrol officers. TCSO, meanwhile, will only need about 50, which could lead to a faster implementation.
As a department, TCSO has prior experience with the power of recording devices. The 2015 killing of Eric Harris by reserve deputy Robert Bates was captured on surveillance equipment Bates purchased for the task force he volunteered for. The recording of the Harris killing played a role in Bates’ being found guilty of second-degree manslaughter, and Bates’ downfall helped lead to the indictment and resignation of former sheriff Stanley Glanz.
Due to the number of cameras TCSO is requesting, they appear to fall into “category 2” in the DOJ application. That category covers agencies between the size of 25 sworn officers and 250 sworn officers. An estimated 10 awards will be handed out in that category, according to the Bureau of Justice outline.
Applicants in that category can request up to $400,000, though the money cannot be used to create a mechanism for video storage. Applicants are expected to have a ” for a mandatory 50 percent in-kind or cash match,” the outline states.