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San Diego police officers begin using body cameras: 75 officers equipped with cameras

| Jul 2, 2014 | Firm News |

Video is such a great tool for the field of law.  It is a memorialization of what happened.  It helps both law enforcement and those accused.  One key point I wonder is how long will the video be stored and not purged.  For instance, someone accused of a San Diego DUI may be able to show they were in fact not the driver of a vehicle.   The video would show who exited the drivers side.  However, the police would not be wanting the video.  It would be defense counsel.  A person has to be arrested, get out of jail, find and retain and attorney.  The attorney would have to gather facts before they would even have a chance to subpoena the video.

It could be weeks….  would the video be there?  It is something to consider when choosing a video program.  There is several instances when you realize incidents occur that the video could settle what happened.

As a former prosecutor and now as defense it was frustrating to try to obtain video only to find out it has been purged.  The first part of advocating for clients is knowing as many resources to aid them.  This video can be one of those aids.  

This week, for the first time, 75 San Diego police officers will be wearing body cameras either on the chest or lapel.

10News learned cameras will always be on, but it will not record until the officer activates it. When it is activated, it will roll back and capture what occurs up to 30 seconds before.

Officers are required to record every so-called “enforcement contact.”

“No officer is going to tamper with that. By using Evidence.com and how we dock it into the station, and how the film is uploaded and downloaded, it cannot be tampered with,” said San Diego Police Department Chief Shelley Zimmerman.

Zimmerman said body cameras will help build community trust.

To address concerns over racial profiling, Zimmerman wants cameras to first be used in three of the city’s most diverse communities: the department’s Central, Southeastern and Mid-City divisions.

“This holds the officer accountable, but it also holds the public accountable too,” Zimmerman said.

She said other departments using body cameras have reported an 80 percent drop in complaints against officers.

Attorney Gene Iredale agrees that it is a win-win situation.

“It protects citizens from brutality and cowboy tactics. It also protects police from unfounded accusations,” said Iredale.

Iredale said the policy must be clear.

Regarding privacy, the department’s policy states: “Private citizens do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when talking with officers during official duties … even when in a private residence … Therefore, officers are not required to give notice they’re recording.”

The full article can be found here.

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