The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a $1 million proposal to distribute body-worn cameras to members of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO).
Starting in August, the cameras will be worn by deputies patrolling Ramona and Alpine. During this period, deputies will be trained how to use the cameras and fine tune the infrastructure that supports the technology.
The rest of the department will be assigned cameras over the next four to five months.
The Sheriff's Department has been working on getting body cams for several years now.
Sheriff Bill Gore spoke to NBC 7 on Monday in an exclusive interview and explained the department's process of researching cameras. He said the body-worn cameras will help provide another perspective during use-of-force investigations.
"Hopefully now with body-worn cameras, we'll see what started the force," said Gore, in a statement. "Was it appropriate force? Was it too much force? It'll tell the story."
"We realized a long time ago this is the future of law enforcement. It’s a critical tool that we have," Gore added.
Gore said the department started the process a few years ago, with a pilot project for about 90 days. According to the Sheriff's Department, deputies tried out cameras from three different companies.
"We took a time out after our pilot and said, 'We want to do this right – not necessarily fast,'" said Gore.
He said the department chose a platform that will allow them to integrate all spare videos into one place.
Since the biggest expense with body-worn cameras is storing the video, the department has looked into creating their own video storage system through a bidding process, said Gore.
“We’re hoping it’s going to cost about a quarter of what other agencies our size are spending on this very valuable technology," said Gore.
Gore said the video storing process, if successful, will be made available to other departments in San Diego County so they can save money too.
A Sheriff's Committee was established to explore the suitability and feasibility of the body-worn cameras, said deputies. Representatives from the Sheriff's Data Services Division, Training Unit, Contracts Division, Patrol and Detentions were part of the committee.
The department previously met with the public to get input on different proposed policies and procedures, according to the Sheriff's Department. The Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board was consulted as well.