Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $382,357)
Houston Independent School District (Houston ISD) is the largest public-school system in Texas and seventh-largest in the nation, covering 333 square miles within the Greater Houston area. With 276 schools, Houston ISD serves a highly ethnically-, culturally-, linguistically-, and economically-diverse population of 196,943 students, which are 79% economically disadvantaged and 53% are at-risk of academic failure and not realizing their full potential.
Through the proposed project, the Houston Independent School District Police Department (Houston ISD PD) will replace the current Body-Worn Camera and In-Car Video systems specific to video data retention, redaction, and cataloging of videos with evidentiary and non-evidentiary value. A new video system will allow the Houston ISD PD to share a link with outside law enforcement agencies, view and download videos, and maintain the authenticity of the original video. This capability will reduce the number of hours used to evaluate, download, and share the videos with outside agencies. Officers will securely download the data directly to the cloud from wherever they are, thus eliminating the need to have the officer come to the station to dock their camera and download the video on the server. Investigators will be able to access the videos and start their investigations immediately.
The primary activities, products and deliverables for the proposed project include the following: (1) Improve transparency and accountability in encounters with the police and the public; (2) Expedite criminal cases, especially those that involve juveniles through the deployment of Body-Worn Camera systems, with the commensurate training for all investigators and officers on the proper categorization of videos for evidentiary purposes; (3) Protect the privacy rights of Houston ISD students inadvertently captured on video by training all investigators and business operations personnel officers on how to redact videos for evidentiary purposes and Open Records requests; (4) Streamline digital evidence processing and sharing capabilities with outside agencies; and (5) Improve training for all investigators and officers to correct internal agency problems and to properly use and implement a Body-Worn Camera system that allows the community to build trust in the department by promoting transparency and accountability.
The service area for the proposed project includes the geographical boundaries of Houston ISD within Houston, Texas. The proposed project will benefit the students, families, staff and community residents living in and attending district schools within Houston ISD boundaries.