All Santa Clara County sheriffs deputies and correctional officers will be outfitted with body worn cameras following a unanimous vote by the board of supervisors.
Supervisor Joe Simitian, who represents Palo Alto and the North County, first proposed the use of the cameras in 2014, after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
“We can watch with anguish what’s happened in other communities around the country, shake our heads, and then move on, “Simitian said this week. “Or, we can accept the responsibility to do something. ”
The idea of getting the body worn cameras by jail officers surfaced following the death of an inmate in 2015, according to a release from Simitian.
The cameras can protect the public from officer misconduct, protect officers against false complaints by the public and help restore trust and confidence in police, Samitian said.
A 16 month long study conducted by Rialto showed a more than 50% reduction in the use of force by police officers wearing cameras, and a nearly 90% drop in citizen complaints of police misconduct.
The board of supervisors voted Tuesday to purchase and deploy body worn cameras, and by the end of this year, an estimated 1,142 officers will be outfitted with them, according to Simitian.
The first shipment of cameras will arrive sometime in early February, and from their officers will need to be trained. The cameras will hit the streets in late February or early March. The county is purchasing the cameras from Taser International Inc., which is based in Scottsdale, Arizona.
More law enforcement agencies around the country and in the bay area have been deploying body worn cameras. In Palo Alto, police captain. Zach Perron said, the department will be getting its 10 demo cameras from the company WatchGuard, which could happen as early as next week.
Once the department tests fees and determines whether the cameras meet officers need, Perrone said, the department will equip all officers with body worn cameras. “There is no set time frame, “he said of purchasing cameras for all officers. “Could be a couple of months or longer. ”
All Mountain View police officers have been wearing the cameras for more than a year, said police spokesman Katie Nelson.
Ahead of the pack
And Los Altos started even sooner. The city began a pilot program starting in 2009, and now, all 31 sworn officers where cameras, said police chief Andy Galea.
In San Mateo County, the sheriffs office doesn’t yet have a plan for putting cameras on its 550 sworn officers.
But in November, Redwood city Council approved a plan to equip all of the cities 96 sworn police officers with body worn cameras by December 29, 2017, according to city officials.
Redwood City is just one of the departments in San Mateo County getting cameras for police. In May, San Mateo County County civil grand jury released a report recommending that all police agencies within the county come up with plans for officer worn body cameras.
Cameras could make police more accountable and footage could be useful as evidence in court cases, according to the grand jury’s report. San Mateo and Burlingame police are aiming to rule out body cameras by October. Atherton, Belmont, Foster City, Hillsboro and Menlo Park are the five towns and cities in the county that had body worn cameras before the civil grand jury’s report.
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