City Council Approves Contract for Body Worn Cameras

ImageStaff Attorney Kellen Russoniello, ACLU

June 10, 2014 (San Diego) Scandals have shaken San Diego Police, which led to the resignation of former Chief William Landsdowne. During the middle of those scandals the former Chief suggested the use of Body Cameras by San Diego Police Officers while on duty.

Today the City Council approved the wider deployment of these cameras, and while today was not a policy discussion day, staff attorney Kellen Russoniello raised a few issues to the Council. Among them are strong privacy concerns, and that the Department has not released the draft policy documents for review. For a written statement from the ACLU, go here.

Chiefly among their concerns are citizen privacy, since officers are “not required to inform citizens they are recording,” or that they can request these tapes. The purpose of these cameras is to “improve both officer and citizen behavior.” This, according to Russoniello is not going to happen if citizens are not informed.

Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman told media after the approval, that she first and foremost thanks both the City Council, and Mayor Kevin Faulconer, for the resources to acquire these cameras. “Right now we are in the training phase and we have seventy five officers at there of our divisions.” These are Southern Division, Central and Mid City division. She also emphasized that this is an effort to increase confidence with the citizens of San Diego.

In the next year or so the program will be expanding, and encompass more officers. The goal, according to the Chief, is to have every patrol officer in the City of San Diego equipped with these body worn cameras. She did not address the issues raised by the ACLU. While she did joke about what another citizen said, that the Police should start using drones. She discounted that out of hand.

Chief Zimmerman also said that at this time they are not considering deployed dashboard cameras with the Department

The contract is with TASER International and it is for 3.9 million and could be renewed for up to four years.

The Cameras, the Chief was clear on this. loop every thirty seconds, and only record a full encounter when the officer presses a button. If an officer does not record an enforcement encounter, then that officer will be dealt with.

The vote was unanimous with Council President Gloria absent today.

Categories: City Hall Politics

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