Shortly on the heels of our first public action for body cameras for all IE police agencies, the chief of police in Hemet has made a request for precisely this sort of equipment in his latest budget request. There was a little bit of coverage on the P-E's blog.
HEMET: Police chief seeks green light for body cameras
Police Chief Dave Brown is seeking $85,000 to purchase body-mounted video cameras
Published: June 6, 2014 Updated: June 7, 2014 2:43 p.m.
Hemet police could become the first in Riverside County to outfit patrol officers with video cameras mounted either on their uniforms or on glasses to record their activities.
Chief Dave Brown is seeking city budget money to purchase body-mounted video cameras for his officers.
“One of the benefits of body-worn is about 80 percent of the officer’s activity during a shift occurs away from the car,“ Brown said.
He said officers could be wearing the cameras by January.
The Rialto Police Department has been using body-mounted cameras since last September, with news reports indicating that the use of force by officers has been reduced by as much as 60 percent and citizen complaints reduced by as much as 90 percent.
The Chino City Council voted last year to purchase cameras for officers there, and Riverside County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Mike Manning confirmed that his department is conducting research with the goal of instituting a pilot program.
The Los Angeles Police Department has been testing body cameras since January.
Brown said Hemet’s plan to use body-mounted cameras is “in its infancy” and that the city has not yet decided what cameras it will buy. Some companies offer a mobile mounted version, he said, that would involve use also on police cars.
A video camera mounted on an officer‘s body “protects the officer, which in turn protects the department and the city,” the police chief said.
“We are in a video age,” he said. “There is no doubt about that. Everybody has a video camera on their phone. We think it’s important to make sure we are videotaping things as well to make sure the true perspective of the police officer is” provided.
Law enforcement officials and civil liberties advocates say the cameras will ultimately help officers, particularly when citizens armed with cellphones are actively scrutinizing their every move.
They say, however, that the lack of clear guidelines on the cameras’ use could potentially undermine departments’ goals of creating greater accountability of officers and jeopardize the privacy of both the public and officers.
“This is a brave new world that we’re entering here, where citizens and police both are going to be filming each other,” Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told the Associated Press in March. The forum is a nonprofit police research and policy organization.
The video cameras would cost about $85,000 for 45 officers who work in the field, Brown said. The money is being requested in a budget proposal submitted to the Hemet City Council as part of a $39.5 million spending program for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The total represents a 2 percent decrease from the current year, but City Manager Wally Hill’s preliminary budget draft recommends paying for the cameras by dipping into reserves set aside for the general fund that pays for most day-to-day city services.
Formal budget approval by the City Council is expected at the council’s June 24 meeting.
If the camera purchases are approved, Brown said, he will meet with officers to discuss “policies and procedures around the cameras, what types of cameras (would be available) and what the implications are.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.