Sheriff Bill Gore explained why the San Diego County Sheriff's department has been working to get body-worn cameras for deputies, a week after a deputy-involved shooting in Vista.
"We realized a long time ago this is the future of law enforcement. It’s a critical tool that we have," Gore told NBC 7.
But there's a lot more to collecting evidence than just using body-worn cameras on deputies. Gore said they have to consider aerial surveillance from helicopters, cameras on businesses, taped interviews, as well as cell phones with cameras on everyone. That all has to be integrated into a case file to be reviewed by a detective.
Gore said the department started the process a few years ago, with a pilot project for about 90 days.
"We took a time out after our pilot and said, we want to do this right – not necessarily fast," said Gore. “What we realized is that there’s so much more to this than just the body-worn camera on the deputy. That’s just one piece of the video evidence that we have out there in almost any case now."
He said the department made a bid for 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.
He said the problem with only seeing video footage from a witness after there's a fight or use of force is that all the audience sees is the result.
“I think it’ll be important now with the body-worn cameras as we’ve seen to see the whole event in its context. It puts it in proper context," said Gore.
As for the recent deputy-involved shooting, Gore said the department takes those very seriously.
“We take, clearly, officer-involved shootings the most seriously to the investigation that we do," said Gore. "And it’s important that we do that thoroughly, accurately and get all the facts to the deciding authority which in our county is the District Attorney.”
Body-worn cameras are coming to the Sheriff's Department by the end of the year. 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.