Sheriff Resisting Timely Release of Body Camera Video

Sheriff Javier Salazar resisting the timely release of body camera vi
Sheriff Javier Salazar – KSAT video

Sheriff’s Office Rocked by More Controversy

(TX) – Sheriff Javier Salazar is in the news again for another public trust failure. In December we learned that the District Attorney’s Office was having a hard time getting body camera video from the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office. The failure to receive the video evidence in a timely manner was jeopardizing cases. Commissioners took the Sheriff to task for not even having a written policy on the release of body camera video.

The commissioners agreed on a 10-day time frame, but Sheriff Salazar is refusing to release video within ten days. He says he will release video within 30 days, but he insists that he needs more money for a software upgrade to meet even the 30-day timeframe.

Commissioner Points to Software Contract

Commissioner Tommy Calvert said, “We are paying $1 million a year for the licensing of the software.” It appears the licensing agreement is in its third year. According to Commissioner Calvert, “In the contract, after three years, the company is supposed to give you updates. I would think for $3 million you would have earned an update to your software.”

Sheriff Claims the 10-Day Timeframe is an Act of Malice

Sheriff Salazar and Commissioner Trish DeBarry have not dealt well with each other. The majority of issues were over repeated requests, by the sheriff, for more money. Even though Commissioner DeBarry has resigned (as required by Texas law) to run for another position, the sheriff is blaming her. “’That was done capriciously and out of malice by one county commissioner who is no longer on the court,’ Salazar said.”

Salazar’s statement can only be viewed as deflection. He is trying to garner sympathy by insinuating he is a victim. His comment ignores the fact that the other commissioners, who are of the same political party as the sheriff, also wanted the 10-day timeframe.

Lack of Fiscal Responsibility

All Bexar County sheriffs ask for more money at some point. But Sheriff Salazar seems to feel the taxpayers are his personal piggy bank. He places officers in positions that civilians have previously done then asks for more money for overtime pay for officers. He wanted a boat for water rescues when he doesn’t even have sufficient staffing to cover the positions he already has.

Now he’s saying that he must have more money to be able to get videos out within 30 days and appears to have totally discounted the 10-day timeframe. Is he refusing to release videos in 30 days if his demands are not met? It sure looks that way. So much so that it almost sounds like blackmail.

Bexar County has been faced with what feels like an avalanche of civil lawsuits under Sheriff Salazar. The wrongful death of 6-year old Kameron Prescott was horrible. But there have been many other civil lawsuits that haven’t gotten as much attention, if any. According to to ex-Commissioner DeBarry, “The court has asked for a policy on releasing body cam footage having addressed multiple lawsuits regarding the withholding of critical incident video.” 

Why the Delay in Releasing Body Camera Video?

The release of body camera video has been a pain point for law enforcement. The problems came to the public’s attention after veteran Damien Daniels was killed by deputies and the Sheriff’s Office took 16-months to release the edited video. The situation blew up when the District Attorney, in frustration, released the information that he was not receiving the evidence he needed to pursue cases.

Sheriff Salazar is correct that there are things that need to be redacted. For example, to protect the identity of a child. He says it takes too much time to do it manually. I found this video on YouTube. It’s from 2019 and shows the technology has been available. The sheriff doesn’t need some massively expensive upgrade to blur faces automatically. He can buy a simple video editor with that capability and save the taxpayers a ton of money.

It’s understandable that the sheriff won’t know all the details while an incident is going on. The officers’ reports have to be turned in before they can get a good grasp of the situation. But the commissioners are only asking for critical incidents to meet the 10-day time frame. That means anything else being worked on can be set aside. So why does Salazar want the delay? The only real reason I can see is so he has time to spin the story if the situation reflects poorly on him.

Sheriff Says He Makes Policy, Not Commissioners

Sheriff Salazar tried pushing back against Commissioners Court, saying he makes policy for the Sheriff’s Office, not them. That is true. But all his funding has to be approved by the commissioners. Them holding the purse strings is s huge incentive. I suspect he will be given more time to get to the 10-day timeframe. How much time, I have no idea.

Deputy Roland A. Garza, with the Bexar County Sheriff's Office, was arrested for DWI
Roland A. Garza

Bexar County Deputy Arrested for DWI

In other Bexar County Sheriff’s Office news, Deputy Rolando A. Garza was arrested by the San Antonio Police Department on Sunday. Garza, who is assigned to detention, was arrested for driving while intoxicated. The 4-year veteran was placed on administrative leave and will likely be terminated. His bond was set at $8,000.

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