Police Body Camera bill advancing and what is means for San Diego

Home » Firm News » Police Body Camera bill advancing and what is means for San Diego

Police Body Camera bill advancing and what is means for San Diego

I have spent virtually my entire 11 year legal career in criminal law.  I have seen a number of changes during my time as both prosecutor and now in defense.  The implementation of the body camera is one of the biggest changes I have seen (to go along with propsition 36 and 47).  

I can tell you there needs to be some uniform standards in the use of Body cameras.  I subpoena the body cameras as soon as I am retained as an attorney.  I have seen as I have tried to obtain the evidence each agency is still trying to figure out how to implement it.  Escondido has very different procedures from San Diego Police.  While every agency may have different procedures in the end there should be uniformity in in the evidence.  

Body Worn Camera evidence is key, especially in a San Diego DUI case.  In most every report you will see the officer note “slurred speech”. I cannot tell you that when I review the whole video and not hear a single slurred word I begin to wonder what else may be inaccurate.  Was the report a cut and paste job?  The officer never met the client so did they just honestly (mistakenly) think they have slurred speech?  If the video shows slurred speech (and other symptoms of impairment) then the body camera does its job because I get to tell the client the totality of the evidence shows this may not be a case to go to trial on.

In all cases the body camera is a great tool.  There needs to be as much uniformity as possible.  The officer in the field needs to know it cannot be turned on and off at their discretion.  There is evidence to be tallied.  There is tax dollars to ensure they are enforcing the laws in a professional manner.  It can also be the best evidence to determine what actually transpired in an incident. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

Screen-Shot-2015-04-15-at-5-44-30-AM.png

A bill that would set standards for the use of police body cameras across California cleared its first hurdle in the state Assembly on Tuesday, despite strong opposition from law enforcement groups over what they say is a major flaw in the legislation.

Meanwhile, a separate and potentially competing bill that would require police agencies to come up with their own standards for use of the technology passed its first test in the state Senate.

By a 5 to 1 vote, the Assembly Public Safety Committee approved AB 66, which includes the controversial provision that prohibits police officers from viewing body camera footage before writing their reports.

Law enforcement groups, including the San Diego Police Officers Association, have said the prohibition unfairly hamstrings officers and could lead to less accurate reports.

The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, has rejected that argument. In an interview last month, Weber said the primary role of body cameras is to de-escalate incidents between police and the general public, not to serve as a reference for officers as they write reports.

Other supporters of the bill, including the American Civil Liberties Union of California, have said it’s unfair for police to review footage before giving statements when criminal defendants aren’t allowed the same right.

Even so, Weber plans to amend her bill to make the controversial prohibition more narrow, her spokesman, Joe Kocurek, said following the Assembly panel’s vote. That amendment would prohibit officers from viewing body camera footage only in use-of-force cases where there’s a serious bodily injury or death, the spokesman said.

Her bill would also set rules for when officers must notify people that they are being recorded; when an officer should turn the camera on or off; and how storage and access of camera footage should be managed. It would apply to police agencies that choose to use body cameras.

The small devices are often attached to an officer’s chest, shoulder or sun glasses. They are quickly becoming part of the uniform for police in some, though not all, departments from San Diego to Oakland. Camera use has increased amid, and often in response to, national protests over police brutality.

Representatives for several law enforcement groups expressed opposition to the bill at Tuesday’s committee hearing. Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent, whose agency prohibits its officers from viewing body camera footage from use-of-force incidents where a serious injury or death has occurred, spoke in favor of Weber’s bill.

AB 66 will be heard next by the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee.

Taking to Twitter on Tuesday, the San Diego Police Officers Association emphasized its support for the new technology and its strong reservations for Weber’s bill.

“As one of the largest dept’s (#SDPD) to utilize body worn camera’s, we support #BWC’s but do not support #AB66,” the association tweeted.

Also on Tuesday, the Senate Public Safety Committee unanimously approved SB 175, which would require each law enforcement agency that chooses to employ body cameras to develop policies for their use.

“It is vital that any legislative framework regarding these polices remain flexible so that local agencies can develop policies and procedures that line up with community needs and agency resources,” Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, the bill’s author, said in a statement. “Having talked with members of numerous law enforcement agencies, a one-size-fits-all approach is unacceptable.”

The full article can be found here.

If you are charged with a San Diego DUI or other Criminal offense, you need to call our firm immediately. We are available to take action on your case today. Please email or call us at 858-751-4384 or email me at [email protected] to schedule a free consultation. The key is to be proactive.

Assembly Bill No. 66
CHAPTER 578

An act to add Section 2774.1 to the Public Utilities Code, relating to electricity.
[ Approved by Governor October 05, 2013. Filed with Secretary of State October 05, 2013. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 66, Muratsuchi. Electricity: system reliability.Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations, as defined. The Public Utilities Act authorizes the commission to ascertain and fix just and reasonable standards, classifications, regulations, practices, measurements, or service to be furnished, imposed, observed, and followed by specified public utilities, including all electrical corporations. If the commission finds after a hearing that the rules, practices, equipment, appliances, facilities, or service of any public utility, or of the methods of manufacture, distribution, transmission, storage, or supply employed by the public utility, are unjust, unreasonable, unsafe, improper, inadequate, or insufficient, the act requires that the commission determine and, by order or rule, fix the rules, practices, equipment, appliances, facilities, service, or methods to be observed, furnished, constructed, enforced, or employed. Under existing law, a violation of the Public Utilities Act or any order, decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission is a crime.This bill would require the commission to require an electrical corporation to include in annual reliability reports, required by a specified decision of the commission, that are due after July 1, 2014, information on the reliability of service to end use customers that identifies the frequency and duration of interruptions in services and indicates areas with both the most frequent and longest outages, using local areas determined by the commission. The bill would require the commission to use the information to require cost-effective remediation of reliability deficiencies if the report, or more than one report, identifies repeated deficiencies in the same local area and would authorize the commission to suspend this requirement upon specified findings. The bill would require the electrical corporations to conspicuously post their annual reports on their Internet Web site. Because a violation of any order, decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission is a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program by expanding the definition of a crime.The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

DIGEST KEY

Vote: majority Appropriation: no Fiscal Committee: yes Local Program: yes


BILL TEXT

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1.

Section 2774.1 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

2774.1.

(a) (1) The commission shall require an electrical corporation to include in an annual reliability report, required pursuant to Decision 96-09-045, as amended, or a decision that supersedes Decision 96-09-045, information on the reliability of service to end use customers that identifies, but is not limited to, the frequency and duration of interruptions in services. This information shall indicate areas with both the most frequent and longest outages, using local areas determined by the commission. The commission, in consultation with the electrical corporation, shall ensure that the geographical boundaries of local areas do not split up circuits for reporting purposes, if the electrical corporation aggregates data by circuits. The information shall be sufficiently aggregated to both maintain electrical system security, and be of use and relevance to affected customers of the electrical corporation.(2) Before July 1, 2014, the commission shall determine the local areas for the purposes of paragraph (1).(3) The requirements of paragraph (1) shall apply to annual reports due after July 1, 2014.(4) The electrical corporation shall conspicuously post on its Internet Web site the annual report required pursuant to Decision 96-09-045, as amended, or a decision that supersedes Decision 96-09-045.(b) (1) The commission shall use the information contained in an electrical corporation’s annual reliability report to require cost-effective remediation of reliability deficiencies if the report, or more than one report, identifies repeated deficiencies in the same local area as determined by the commission pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a). In requiring cost-effective remediation, the commission shall consult with the electrical corporation and consider mitigating factors that may impede an electrical corporation from implementing required cost-effective remediation, including, but not limited to, local permitting matters or other events or conditions or public policy considerations that may present higher priority safety or reliability issues.(2) The commission may suspend the requirements of paragraph (1) if the commission finds that expenditures by the electrical corporation to comply with that paragraph are not justified or that the remediation measures undertaken by the electrical corporation are not effective at improving reliability.(c) (1) The commission may order an electrical corporation to make more frequent trend analyses of local area service reliability and to make those analyses publicly available.(2) The information made publicly available shall provide sufficient confidentiality for purposes of protecting electrical system security.(3) The commission may make those analyses publicly available.

SEC. 2.

(a) It is the intent of the Legislature in adding Section 2774.1 to the Public Utilities Code, that the required system reliability information be included in the annual report required by the Public Utilities Commission in Decision 96-09-045 (September 4, 1996), while preserving the discretion of the commission to modify an electrical corporation’s reporting requirements.(b) It is the further intent of the Legislature to require an annual reliability report to include and differentiate both sustained outages and momentary outages, as defined by the Public Utilities Commission.

SEC. 3.

No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.