All uniformed National City Police officers are expected to get body cameras as soon as early July 2016.
Lt. Robert Rounds updated city councilmembers Tuesday explaining the goals and challenges of the camera program. He’s been working on the program the last several months.
“Now we’re at the point where we’re drafting our policy on when our officers will use [cameras], won’t use them,” said Lt. Rounds.
He said the pilot program would cost $125,000 the first year and then about $46,000 every year after that for maintenance.
The goal is for every uniformed police officer to wear a body camera to enhance transparency and accountability of both the officer and the public, according to Lt. Rounds.
“The cameras are going to show the officers are out there working hard and doing a great job,” he said.
The project comes with challenges. According to the project report at the council meeting, they include:
1. Cameras have to be manually activated
2. Officer initially distracted from a situation to operate camera
3. People reluctant to come forward as witnesses“If it’s not on video, it didn’t happen”
4. Privacy issues
5. Technology issues
7. Data management
Also, civil liberty groups like the American Civil Liberties Union are pushing for more law enforcement departments to release body camera videos to the public.
“We won’t do that because we want to respect the privacy of the officer and community in general,” Lt. Rounds said. “A lot of times we show up when it’s a person’s worst day. They may not want their story released to everyone.”
City council members did not take any action Tuesday. Next steps include receiving National City Police Department’s finalized policies on body camera-use.