San Jose Considers Officer-Worn Cameras

San Jose will start looking for ways to pay for body-worn cameras on police officers, which Independent Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell says will lessen citizen complaints and keep officers accountable for the way they conduct themselves in the field.

Cameras would eliminate the need for officers to file reports on each interaction, which the San Jose Police Department began doing last month to find out if minorities are unfairly targeted in traffic and pedestrian stops. SJPD began tracking racial data on these interactions after years of complaints that officers disproportionately detained Latino and black residents.

A memo going before the Rules and Open Government Committee meeting Wednesday says the city is moving forward with a study on how to mount the cameras and whether they should become standard-issue equipment for all recruits. The cameras could attach to a shirt pocket, glasses, badge or helmet and help capture what’s out of sight to an in-car video camera.

The plan has yet to make it to the City Council for formal deliberation, but the police department has put together a working group to study the possibility of requiring the cameras.

Many large cities across the country have outfitted officers with body-worn cameras, reads the memo signed by council members Don Rocha, Pete Constant and Ash Kalra. The cameras cast light on officer conduct, holding them accountable to the public that pays their salaries. They also protect police from false accusations.

The memo says an academic study in one jurisdiction found that body-worn cameras resulted in a 50-percent reduction in the number of incidents officers used force, and an 88-percent decrease in complaints against officers.

“Although this issue has been discussed in theory in recent years, advances in technology have driven costs of hardware and storage down, making the capacity for us to roll out an effective body-worn camera program finally within the realm of possibility,” the memo states.

Though the technology’s out there, the logistics have to be ironed out. San Mateo conducted five pilot tests with body-worn cameras and opted not to adopt the technology until more advances are made. Placement was the biggest problem along with battery life.

More from the San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for January 15, 2014:

• Councilmember Johnny Khamis replaces colleague Sam Liccardo on the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Board of Directors.

• David Wall decries the region’s “unbridled residential growth” and diminishing quality of life because of the dearth of water. He asks Mayor Chuck Reed to impose a housing moratorium.

WHAT: Rules and Open Government Committee meets
WHEN: 2pm Wednesday
WHERE: City Hal, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to jenniferw@metronews.com or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

4 Comments

  1. Well if Chief Cordell says this is the best thing, then it must be so. Finding the money to fund the cameras won’t be a problem; at the rate things are going, there will soon be only a few officers left at SJPD. Don’t mind that the crime rate has skyrocketed, some serious crimes never get investigated and victims don’t get justice, calls for service go unanswered, several officers leave for other departments on a weekly basis, our substation is empty and looks like something out of Wild Kingdom, we will set aside all these priorities, and make the biggest priority mounting a camera on our police officers. Yeah, that’s the ticket Chief Cordell.

  2. PLease don’t anybody be fooled by this . This is just another way for Ladoris to continue to harass P.D. This potato head knows nothing of these streets or Polie work for that matter. cameras don’t catch everything , and that means your truly will be left to decide actions legal/illegal

  3. All the more reason to abandon proactive crime fighting police work. Its just not worht it. Citizens and politicians dont really want an effective police force. SJ is just a bunch of arm chair monday morning quarterbacks that whine about what others have worked for while criticizing how it could have all been done better if cops werent lazy. SJ absolutely deserves to be where it is…. Thanks Liccardo, Reed, Khamis, Shana Patricia and the rest of the MN trolls

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