El Cajon Considering Body Cameras for Police Officers

El Cajon is considering equipping its officers with body cameras following a nationwide trend among police agencies that’s gathered steam in recent weeks after the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and New York.

On Tuesday night, the city council voted to allow staff to research what it would take to obtain and implement the new equipment.

The cameras could cost the city $75,000 and, if approved, could be rolled out in 90 days once the council conducts a series of public meetings.

City spokeswoman Monica Zech said the city will now research specific camera makers and exact prices, as well as rules that surround using them. The staff will present their findings at the council's second meeting in January.

El Cajon City Councilor Gary Kendrick said the body cameras would promote transparency among police officers and would cut down on the number of complaints against officers.

“I think it’s money well spent to ensure public safety,” Kendrick said.

Some other cities in San Diego County have already implemented the cameras. San Diego police rolled out their cameras in June and Chula Vista police introduced theirs last month.

Elsewhere, a number of metropolitan area police agencies have starting using them and, according to preliminary studies, it’s led to dramatic declines in both use of force by police officers as well as citizen complaints against officers.

San Diego businessman Mark Arabo said he’s pushing for El Cajon police to start wearing the cameras and also is lobbying legislators for a statewide mandate that would equip all officers in California with body cameras.

“It ensures transparency and accountability,” he said. “Hopefully, it will save lives and ensure police officers are and the public is safe.”

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