The Chula Vista Police officers will soon be sporting body cameras of their own.
Tuesday night, the Chula Vista City Council unanimously approved the purchase of 114 body worn cameras, an investment the police department has been researching since 2010, according to Cpt. Roxana Kennedy.
After testing various systems and companies, the CVPD landed on Taser International to provide the cameras, docking stations, cloud-based storage for the digital video evidence and support services.
A five-year contract with Taser International will cost the city $501,294, more than $25,000 of which was donated by community members who support the addition of body worn cameras.
Kennedy told NBC 7 the CVPD believes the equipment will offer a transparent way of getting to the facts.
People bring a large number of false allegations against officers, she said — every one of which they must investigate. But when internal affairs has video of the encounter, investigators can see exactly what took place.
The footage can prove if the accusations are unfounded or if the blame belongs to an officer.
"If there is some misconduct that occurs, by all means, we want to know," said Kennedy. Officials hope the cameras will reduce and prevent allegations against officers if they are not valid.
The decision of whether to release the video to the public will depend on where an investigation stands and is at the ultimate discretion of the police chief.
Kennedy said every officer in the patrol and traffic divisions will be assigned a body worn camera. Training with them begins in January.
The police requested that the city council wave the competitive bid process of the cameras, saying no other manufacturer besides Taser gives the high-quality equipment and the evidence storage solution. The council members agreed.
They are the same brand used by the San Diego Police Department, which rolled out its own line of cop cameras in June. The CVPD has worked with the SDPD on the decision.
“We’ve been in direct communication with them and [other] agencies. We learn from each other,” Kennedy said.
For the SDPD, the decision to purchase the equipment stemmed from allegations of criminal activity and sexual misconduct by its officers in recent years.
Kennedy said no such catalyst prompted the CVPD to purchase the cameras. She believes most agencies will eventually do the same, for the benefit of their officers and the community.