Good move Chula Vista Police.
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.
The CHP has Dash Cam videos called MVARS. The video is an effective tool in discerning how the San Diego DUI stop went. I have had situations where the client said something was said or done that just was not on the video. The fact it did not happen helped resolved the issues the client had and the case was resolved.
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.
I am proud to say SDPD (San Diego Police) has been implementing the body cameras earlier. The devices are not on every officer, which makes it tough because it is not known whether the officer is one that is fixed with the body camera. For example, most who deal with San Diego DUIs know that every CHP car has an MVARs video.
It is awesome that Chula Vista Police is jumping in on this.
For all sides in the matter I hope the body cameras become an everyday tool of law enforcement.
Chula Vista police officers are now wearing body cameras in the field — something the officers have wanted for years. In November the Chula Vista City Council approved the purchase of body cameras for 120 officers.
Around half of the 120 officers have completed training and began wearing the cameras while on patrol less than one month ago. By March, 120 officers will be wearing them while in the field.
Officer Marshall Gillon, one of the first officers to begin wearing them, said they’ll help with police transparency.
Cpt. Vern Sallee agrees.
“It also provides an accurate account so we don’t have to rely on ‘he said, she said’ arguments if there’s any dispute as to what occurred during an incident,” he said.
FOX 5 went on patrol with Officer Gillon as he responded to an alleged hit and run involving a pedestrian and made a routine traffic stop.
From the television camera angles it appeared that the woman he pulled over attempted to bribe the officer, as she waved a $20 bill near the officer several times.
But Officer Gillon said, thanks to his body camera, he could prove that she did not try to bribe him. He explained it was a misunderstanding because the woman appeared nervous as he wrote the ticket.
“No, she just had money in her hand when I walked up to the car,” he said.
The body camera video from the traffic stop FOX 5 witnessed will be uploaded to a third party website with heavy cyber security.
Because it was a non-violent, minor incident, it will only be stored for 90 days. The length of time an incident will be stored digitally will vary depending on the severity. A homicide, for example, would be stored forever.
Officer Gillon said the body cameras add another layer of comfort while on the job because they help accurately describe what happened.
It can be difficult to really capture the moments during and after a crime on paper.
“When you say someone is angry and yelling, people can interpret it for themselves what their level of yelling would be, but when you see it on video, it’s a whole ‘nother story,” Officer Gillon said.
Sallee agrees. He said the cameras will also help capture emotion and can serve as better evidence in court, as opposed to a paper police report.
“You take that evidence and you have a victim of domestic violence that you can present in court who is afraid and crying and has a scratch or bruise on their face, male or female, with frightened children in the home,” he said. “It’s incredibly powerful evidence.”
With the introduction of these new cameras also comes a change to protocol. Officers are now told to let the person they’re interacting with know that they’re on camera.
“Our policy tells the officers that as soon as it is practical, they should tell the person they’re being recorded,” Sallee said. “We don’t want it to be a secret. We want it to be known.”
Officer Gallon used this tactic in the field Thursday.
“I’m Officer Marshall Gallon from the Chula Vista Police Department. I am wearing a camera,” he said as he made a traffic stop.
Although storing the footage would cost approximately $100,000 a year, it’s a financial move the department calls priceless.
The full article and video can be found here.
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