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Where Every San Diego County Law Enforcement Agency Stands with Body Worn Cameras

| Nov 6, 2015 | Firm News |


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.

I have spent virtually my entire 12 year legal career in criminal law. I have seen a number of changes during my time as both prosecutor and now in defense.

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.

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.  Here is an article on what agencies in San Diego use the body worn cameras.

San Diego’s police department became one of the first big cities in the country to outfit patrol officers with body-worn cameras when it began rolling out the technology in June 2014.

But SDPD wasn’t the first agency in San Diego County to take the body camera plunge – Coronado and Escondido’s police departments got the devices to their officers before SDPD. Increasingly across the country, police departments are jumping on the body camera bandwagon after President Obama promoted the technology as a way to bolster community trust of police.

Locally, Chula Vista also has joined the three other agencies in deploying cameras to its officers. The remaining seven agencies – Carlsbad, El Cajon, La Mesa, National City, Oceanside, San Diego Harbor Police and the Sheriff’s Department – are in various stages of considering purchasing the equipment. The Sheriff’s Department, the largest agency here without them, has solicited proposals from companies to provide them.

“We have been working on an appropriate policy and researching best practices and equipment,” spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said. “We hope to launch a 90-day testing to begin after the first of the year.”

The map below shows which San Diego departments have the cameras and what each department says about them. One note: The Sheriff’s Department has jurisdiction over unincorporated areas of the county as well, though they’re not marked on the map.

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