Two-and-a-half years have passed since San Jose police first began studying the use of body cameras. This week, the department will finally equip its officers with devices to visually and audibly record interactions with the public.
Officers will undergo a four-hour training Wednesday, which will be open only to the media, before being deployed into the field with operational body cameras. The recordings will become part of investigative records, similar to 9-1-1 calls and collected evidence.
Police Chief Eddie Garcia, Lt. Elle Washburn—a commander for the Body-Worn Camera Administrative Unit—and a representative from camera manufacturer Taser International will attend the training to answer questions.
The training will cover maintenance as well as mandatory and discretionary uses of the cameras. Subsequent trainings will take place periodically to keep officers up-to-date with the technology.
Studies have shown that officers without body cameras make more arrests than those with them, and officers wearing cameras were “25.2 percent more likely to perceive the devices as being helpful during their interactions with the public.” A study of preliminary statistics by San Diego’s police department found that body cameras helped reduce personal “body force” incidents by 46.5 percent.
Proponents of body-worn cameras have long argued that the technology should not only protect citizens from excessive force, but also protect the city from frivolous lawsuits.
SJPD has posted its body camera policy on its website.