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Tuesday, June 2, 2015



O’side captain heading group to research devices, find best way to implement them.

Only one police department in North County uses body-worn video cameras but more law enforcement agencies in the area will soon follow, officials said.The Escondido Police Department started requiring its patrol officers to wear the cameras late last year, becoming the first in the area to fully deploy the devices (a city park ranger in Del Mar also wears one). But officials in other departments, including Oceanside, say they are studying how to best incorporate the cameras.Oceanside Police Chief Frank McCoy said on Friday that his department recently started forming a committee, headed by Capt. Tom Aguigui, to look into the matter.“(The committee) will be providing information in the areas (of) policy, camera cost, data storage and associated costs and an implementation plan,” McCoy said. “Once we have a clear idea of costs and policy, we will look for funding and implementing a pilot program to start out.”In the rest of the county, the San Diego, Chula Vista and Coronado police departments all use body cameras.The Sheriff’s Department — which provides law enforcement services for Poway, San Marcos, Vista, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar and unincorporated areas of North County — received the go-ahead in March from the County Board of Supervisors to start exploring the technology.Carlsbad police officials said they are considering the devices but have made no decisions on whether to use them.The use of body cameras has received much attention in recent months in the wake of several controversial incidents involving police.President Barack Obama called on Congress last year to approve funds to help equip police departments with the cameras after incidents such as the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a black teen, by a white officer in Ferguson. Mo.; and Eric Garner, a black man who died after being placed in a chokehold by officers in New York.In Sacramento, lawmakers are debating a bill that would set statewide guidelines for police use of body cameras.The tiny devices, which are often attached to an officer’s chest or sunglasses, are quickly becoming part of an officer’s uniform in departments across the state and the nation.
Aguigui said it’s likely just a matter of time before all law enforcement agencies are required to use them and the department wants to be one step ahead. He said his committee’s goal is to begin field testing the devices by early next year and to make a recommendation by the middle of next year. He said the work will also include input from the community and civil rights groups, such as the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union.“We want to do a very through (research) because it’s a very costly venture,” Aguigui said. “It’s very expensive and we want to do it right.”According to the Chula Vista Police Department, the 114 cameras purchased by the city cost about $72,000 and the service to store the video will cost about $86,000 a year.Besides cost, there are other issues to consider.
Some organizations, such as the ACLU, have raised concerns about privacy because some departments do not require officers to inform members of the public whenever the cameras are running. Other groups have raised concerns about police officers’ privacy and the privacy of crime victims in cases such as domestic violence.Police departments that have deployed the technology say the cameras have helped to investigate crimes, clarify complaints against officers and improve community relations.“It’s the wave of the future,” said Lt. Eric Skaja, a spokesman for the Escondido Police Department. “It’s a great investigative tool.”About 85 officers, including patrol and traffic officers, wear the cameras regularly, Skaja said. The officers can activate the cameras when an incident occurs and the device will begin recording. The device will also preserve 30 seconds of video before the officer activated the camera.In Del Mar, the city’s park ranger began using a body camera in 2012. But the program was suspended in September after the city was forced to release a video recording that showed a reserve sheriff’s deputy reacting angrily when he was pulled over by the ranger for using a cellphone while driving.The program was reinstated with the support of residents after the city reviewed and drafted new procedures for the program, including a requirement to let people know when they are being recorded.
Del Mar resident Jim Benedict was one of the people that petitioned the city to reinstate the body camera program. He said he believes all law enforcement officers in the city should wear the devices and that most his fellow residents agree.“(With the cameras) you get the truth,” Benedict said. “It’s not: He said, she said. Whatever the truth is, you get it.”
The comments from cities considering body cams are humorous. The issues they cite are cost, data storage, etc. Then their perceived "ethics' issues of filming others seem to pop up. Translated here is what is true: Thousands of cities across the US have solve the very issues of cost and data storage that SD County police dept. are wrestling with. So what IS the problem? The problem IS that police dept. DO NOT WANT BODY CAMS AT ANY COSTS. And that IS the driving force behind this discussion. For an affluent city like Carlsbad to play the "cost and data storage" card is just not believable. Body cams are coming sooner or later no matter how much police depts. complain about them.