According to a press release from the Lufkin Police Department, law enforcement there have joined the ranks of larger agencies across the country this month with the implementation of body-worn cameras.

Following two years of research and testing, the cameras hit the streets last week as a wireless unit roughly the size of a cigarette package attached to each officer’s chest.

“There has been a lot of controversy involving law enforcement throughout the country in the last few years. We believe one way to counter that is to be very open,” Police Chief Gerald Williamson said. “We look forward to being able to use footage from our cameras when people have questions about the work that we do.”

The Panasonic made cameras seamlessly integrated into the Department’s current Panasonic camera system which previously consisted of two fixed in-car units and a body-worn microphone. That in-car camera program dates to the early nineties. Williamson said the addition of body-worn cameras will compensate for the in-car camera’s limitations.

“In critical moments when we really need footage, the cameras in the cars just don’t capture it because they’re limited to capturing what’s in front of the car,” Williamson said. “If the officer is on the ground, to one side or the other or inside a house, the camera is not going to capture it. We’re very enthused by our new camera system.”

The triggers to activate the cameras are the same as that of the current in-car system - if the officer activates the overhead lights, the camera comes on; if they activate their gun lock in the car to take out their long gun, the camera comes on; if they hit 80 mph, the camera comes on; or they can activate the camera manually.

The body-worn camera program was made possible by a grant through the T.L.L. Temple Foundation.