BELL COUNTY (September 10, 2012) --- Cameras given to police officers across Bell County have proved a useful tool for providing evidence to prosecute domestic violence cases.
Officials in the Bell County Attorney's office say because of these cameras and valuable training for more than 300 officers in the area the amount of domestic violence cases dismissed has dropped.
In 2010 the Bell County Attorney's Office got state grant for $54,000 to buy the cameras and provide training for officers. With that money cameras were provided to the Bell County Sheriff's Office and police departments in Killeen, Temple, Belton, Harker Heights, Nolanville, Salado, Morgan's Point and several other cities throughout the county.
The county pursued the funding for the cameras after several domestic violence cases were being dismissed because the victim recanted his or her statements or refused to cooperate with police. Now with video evidence of the scene when officers arrive Bell County Attorney Rick Miller says it's hard to pretend the violence didn't happen.
"That is very powerful stuff and that helps us to get first of all pleas of guilty rather than go through a trial once those things are available and the defense attorney and his client see that," Miller said.
Additional training for more than 300 police officers in the Bell County area was also included in the grant. In this training officers learned better investigative techniques that help prosecutors pursue cases at a higher success rate.
One problem with the cameras and training the County Attorney's Office has now run into is additional funding.
"Once they wear out we don't have the money to replace them and we're counting on the cities to maybe pick up that load and replace these or repair them as they need to," Miller said.