BELL COUNTY (April 14, 2013)--In the coming weeks, the Bell County Sheriff's Department will be receiving crucial upgrades that will finally place the department in the 21st century.
Decisions from past administrations have left Bell County Sheriff Deputies with outdated equipment.
Only 6 patrol cars have been purchased for the department in the past two years, when in hindsight the department needed almost 30.
The Bell County Sheriff's Department might be one of the few Sheriff's offices in Texas that doesn't have a dash camera in any patrol car.
Sgt. Glenn Pitrucha, who has been a deputy for almost 22 years, says working with outdated equipment has been an uphill battle.
"When you have someone accuse you of doing something, it's nice to have that camera there saying no it didn't happen this way," Pitrucha said.
Nearly all deputies in the department have outdated body armor.
Sgt. Pitrucha's department issued vest was given to him in 2003. On the inside of the vest, the label says it should be replaced after four to five years of use.
"When you're doing felony warrants, you have to kick in a door, and you know your vest might or might not work...yeah it makes you a little uncomfortable," Pitrucha said.
In the past, deputies were even told to purchase their own badges, dishing out 80 to 100 bucks a badge.
But a long overdue makeover has been ordered by newly elected Sheriff Eddy Lange.
In the coming weeks, the department will receive 9 new patrol cars. All will be equipped with dash cameras, upgraded radar, and computer equipment.
Newly fitted body armor for all deputies will arrive too.
"We've been operating like we still live in the 1980's," Sheriff Lange said.
"We're making great strides. To get everybody up to speed, to get the tools our deputies need to do their job efficiently, and to make the community safer is a great thing."
When Lange was sworn in, he gave every deputy a new badge, claiming that no deputy will ever have to pay for his or hers.
Sgt. Pitrucha says that was a turning point for him.
"I feel like Sheriff Lange is taking care of us," Pitrucha said.
"He's making sure we have every tool and all the equipment we need to do our job right."