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SAN DIEGO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS VOTES FOR BODY CAMERAS

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SAN DIEGO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS VOTES FOR BODY CAMERAS

Good move San Diego.

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 already 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.

For all sides in the matter I hope the body cameras become an everyday tool of law enforcement.

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he San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to begin taking bids for cameras that sheriff’s deputies can wear on their uniforms.

Law enforcement agencies in the San Diego region and across the country are starting to acquire the cameras so that officers can record interactions with the public. Sheriff Bill Gore wrote in his proposal that the devices, sometimes called “body-worn cameras,” increase accountability on the part of both officers and the public.

Many agencies that use cameras have seen improvement in officer performance as well as the conduct of the community members who are recorded.

“This is a partnership,” Gore said. “The whole purpose is to increase that trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve.”

Crime scene recordings can provide investigators, prosecutors and juries with detailed, accurate and compelling evidence, and could be used intraining sessions, he said.

Outfitting the department’s personnel with the cameras and accessories is expected to cost more than $1 million a year, not including the cost of storing the recordings electronically, according to the sheriff.

Gore’s proposal calls for staff to solicit bids from companies for demonstration systems; a vendor would be selected after testing. Policies and procedures regarding the cameras would be vetted before they are field-tested, he said.

“I think this is a great balance between protecting our deputy sheriffs and maintaining the strong trust we have throughout the county,” Supervisor Dave Roberts said.

The San Diego Police Department has been outfitting hundreds of its officers with the cameras for nearly a year now.

The SDPD’s decision to purchase the devices stemmed from a series of embarrassing incidents in which officers either abused, or were accused of abusing, members of the public.

One of those officers was sentenced to prison for soliciting sexual favors from women he pulled over for alleged drunken driving in the Gaslamp Quarter. Another was jailed after being convicted of illegally detaining four women while on duty.

Police officials are also hoping that the presence of cameras will deter confrontations that lead to controversial shootings like those in New York and Ferguson, Missouri, that sparked nationwide protests, and reduce complaints of alleged racial profiling during vehicle stops.

“The body cameras are extremely helpful,” SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman said last week. “We’re also hearing from our Independent Citizens Review Board on Police Practices that they’re finding the body cameras are very beneficial to finding out exactly what happened (in incidents that led to acomplaint).”

She said she would provide initial statistics on the cameras at a City Council committee meeting later this month. 

The full article can be found here.

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