Fullerton will now be the second city in Orange County to have officers wear body cameras due to a recent purchase approved by the city council.
Fullerton city council approved the purchase of 140 body worn cameras for police officers at the September 16 council meeting. Total cost will not exceed $650,354.32 which includes four upgrades, equipment and customer support.
Council approved using $281,118.23 of asset seizure funds for the purchase, which will handle two years of payments. The city’s general funds will have to be used after that for payments from 2016-2018 at the tune of $98,928.00 per year. The department will get all new equipment after two and-a-half years and also at year five.
“It’s kind of like iPhones…within two years the technology has completely changed,” Police Chief Dan Hughes said. He thinks police departments will be able to view events on cameras in real time shortly.
The cameras, made by TASER International, will be worn either on the chest or gun belt. They have an evidence transfer manager through the Web site evidence.com and will be docked and recharged at the end of officers shifts. Hughes told the council that nothing can be deleted by officers, but videos can be edited to attach names and case numbers.
Fullerton will be the second city in Orange County to use body cameras, following closely behind Anaheim, who approved the purchase of 250 body cameras at their September 9 meeting. Cal State Fullerton’s police will also be using a different type of body camera system, he said.
Hughes said that officers have been testing body worn cameras since April 2013 and said the impacts on both officer demeanor and the people being filmed have been greatly impacted for the better.
Hughes said that he is currently working on a policy for the body worn cameras and wants to be sensitive to many different factors, including recording victims of child abuse and also recording in homes. The final policy will be posted on the city’s Web site.
“I’m not necessarily looking for any direction or input on policy, but I do want to tell you that I am looking at policies around the nation,” he added.
Mayor Pro Tem Greg Sebourn asked for a draft of the policy by the next council meeting.
“It’s not the council’s decision on the policy,” Council member Jennifer Fitzgerald told Sebourn.
The approval passed 5-0, with Council Member Bruce Whitaker praising Hughes for his respect of victims of crimes and also privacy issues.
“Right from the beginning, you showed the right balanced approach,” Whitaker said.
Cameras will be shipped in 30 days, Hughes said, with training with TASER by November or December. Officers will start wearing the cameras after the training.
The cameras come three years after the death of Kelly Thomas, who died in July 2011 after an encounter with Fullerton police officers at the Fullerton Transportation Center. A jury recently acquitted two of those officers in his death. The district attorney also dropped charges against a third officer.
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