League City City Council approves applying for grant to help afford body cameras for police officers

League City police has been considering using body cameras since 2018. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
League City police has been considering using body cameras since 2018. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

League City police has been considering using body cameras since 2018. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

With the League City City Council's approval May 12, the League City Police Department is on its way to acquiring body cameras for its officers, becoming the last community of its size in Galveston County to do so.

The City Council at its regular meeting voted unanimously to apply for a $186,286 Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program federal grant that would help the department afford a five-year $1.24 million contract with Axon for 127 body cameras for the department's officers.

After the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, the culture changed, and some of the public started pushing for officers to wear body cameras, Chief Gary Ratliff said.

"At that point in time, it just pissed me off," Ratliff said of the public's outcry for body cameras.

Ratliff said he trusts his officers to do their job with integrity. He vowed only two things would make him change his view and be OK with his officers wearing body cameras: legislation that made it legally required and a push from his own officers.


Since January 2018, League City police have been involved in eight shootings, and officers have begun expressing a desire to wear body cameras. One officer involved in a shooting told Ratliff he wished Ratliff could see the assailant's face before officers fired on him, Ratliff said.

Additionally, the League City Police Department's peers are all using body cameras. Police for Friendswood, Texas City and Galveston have all been using body cameras for at least two years, Lt. Travis Ladd said.

"We’re the only agency our size in the county or in the immediate area that is not currently using body-worn cameras," he said.

Body cameras help departments avoid expensive litigation and provide transparency to the public, Ladd added.

League City police researched several body camera companies and tested three of them: Axon, BodyWorn and WatchGuard. While all were good, Axon came out on top. The company is likely to stay at the forefront of technology as body-worn cameras become more widely used, Ladd said.

The police department uses L3 for its in-car cameras that record during traffic stops. L3 has not updated its in-car systems much in the nearly 20 years League City police have been using them, which is why the department does not want to use L3 for body cameras, Ladd said.

Body cameras would add over $200,000 in annual expenses to the department's budget indefinitely. Still, City Manager John Baumgartner said it would be a "missed opportunity" to not vote in favor for applying for the grant.

Ratliff added the department, which has been considering body cameras since 2018, had planned to host a workshop about the advantages of the devices and ease the council into the decision, but then COVID-19 struck.

"I know that this time is not the ideal time to bring this forward," Ratliff said.

Then the first grant related to body-worn cameras since 2016 came up, and Ratliff wanted to have the council consider applying while it was possible to apply, he said.

"This is a small part of a bigger project," Ratliff said of what the grant would fund.
By Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.

<

MOST RECENT

The text of General Order No. 3, which Gordon Granger issued from Galveston in June 1865 to explicitly liberate enslaved Black Texans, runs across the bottom of the mural. (Colleen Ferguson/Community Impact Newspaper)
‘I am filled’: Houston-Galveston area celebrates first Juneteenth as federal holiday

See how local policymakers, historians, artists and philanthropists honored the Juneteenth holiday at its birthplace with the dedication of a 5,000-square-foot mural.

The Texas Central rail connection from Dallas to Houston will feature a bullet train similar to this one. (Courtesy Texas Central Partners/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Supreme Court declines to review high-speed rail case, freeing company up to use eminent domain

Texas Central, the company looking to build a 236-mile high-speed rail line connecting Houston and Dallas, has been given a big win in an ongoing legal battle over whether the company is legally recognized as a "railroad company" under state law.

There will be various events across the Houston area celebrating the Fourth of July, including League City's Fireworks Extravaganza. (Courtesy of League City)
12 Fourth of July weekend events, celebrations to attend in the Greater Houston area

Here are 12 Fourth of July weekend events throughout the Houston region.

When he is not on the UHCL campus, Delgado is employed part-time as a legal assistant at Travis Bryan Law Group and is also a firefighter with the Pasadena Volunteer Fire Department. (Courtesy University of Houston-Clear Lake)
University of Houston system appoints first-ever University of Houston-Clear Lake Hawk as student regent

Derek Delgado, who is pursuing an undergraduate degree in legal studies at UHCL, will work directly with other student governments throughout the university system and help advocate for student needs.

(Rendering courtesy Land Rover of Clear Lake)
IMPACTS ROUNDUP: Land Rover of Clear Lake coming soon and more

Here is a roundup of local business news from Clear Lake and League City.

Alvin Community College President Christal Albrecht (left) and University of Houston-Clear Lake President Ira Blake signed an articulation agreement expansion June 10 that will allow ACC associate degree students to co-enroll in UHCL’s Bachelor of Science in nursing program. (Courtesy University of Houston-Clear Lake)
Alvin Community College, University of Houston-Clear Lake expand nursing program partnership

The agreement between the colleges will streamline the transition process between ACC’s associate degree program for nursing and UHCL’s RN-to-BSN program.

ribbon cutting
Nearly $400M project to boost Houston-area water supply by up to 500M gallons a day

The project has been in development for over 50 years and broke ground in 2017.

Following Hurricane Harvey, debris lined the streets in many parts of Harris County. (Danica Lloyd/Community Impact Newspaper)
After Department of Housing and Urban Development denies request, Texas General Land Office drafting plan to subaward Harris County $750M for flood mitigation

The Texas General Land Office now plans to subaward Harris County flood mitigation funding after the county was left out of recent Hurricane Harvey relief funds.

(Rendering courtesy Intuitive Machines)
Intuitive Machines opening Lunar Operations Center at Houston Spaceport

After landing a module on the moon in the first quarter of 2022, Intuitive Machines plans to make an annual effort to send hardware to the lunar surface, and it will do its work from the Houston Spaceport.

Scott and her husband Dan Jewett gave $30 million to the college, which is the largest private gift in San Jac’s history. (Courtesy Fotolia)
San Jacinto College receives largest private gift in college history from MacKenzie Scott

The former wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos donated $2.7 billion to nearly 300 high-impact organizations “in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked,” she announced June 15.

Clear Creek ISD students will be able to freely collaborate and play during the 2021-22 school year, district leaders said. (Courtesy Pexels)
Clear Creek ISD makes strides toward pre-pandemic operations for 2021-22

Here is what CCISD community members need to know about what working and learning will look like on campuses this fall, including updated guidance on quarantines, contact tracing and other COVID-19 response protocols.