Richmond police one step closer to body cameras

on October 6, 2014

The Richmond Police Department hopes to buy 110 body cameras for officers to wear while on patrol, and has a proposal to purchase the equipment on the agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

If approved, the department would pay $85,000 to a company called Digital Ally to buy the cameras, which would be worn by officers and record their interactions with the public, said Lt. Andre Hill.

“This amount includes the hardware purchase, storage of the videos, and warranty,” Hill said.

On its website, Digital Ally said it offers video systems that are reliable and used by correctional facilities, police, sheriffs and the military.

“The body cameras will protect the department from complaints,” Hill said. “The video recordings will capture the activity from both parties.”

The council will consider the purchase at its Oct. 7 meeting, according to Richmond police Capt. Anthony Williams.

Wearing the cameras will be mandatory for the officers during their shift, Hill said.

Police body cameras have been talked about for the last couple of years, and the talk intensified in the aftermath of a fatal officer-involved shooting outside a liquor store last month, the department’s first in more than seven years. The incident is under investigation by both the department and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.

Several officers used body cameras beginning last year as a test trial with good results, according to police officials.

Hill said the prospect of being recorded by cameras mounted on their uniforms is welcomed by patrol officers.

”Officers realize it’s an opportunity to be further protected and the community does too,” Hill said. “The perception of officers within the urban communities is not a good one, this is a way to enhance the encounter on both parts.”

Other Bay Area departments with high crime rates have already started using similar cameras. About 12 percent of departments nationwide use similar cameras, according to a San Francisco Chronicle article published in August.

Although questions remain about how long video storage will be kept and who would have access to the recordings, Hill is confident the cameras will enhance trust between the community and police.

“We are transparent and we don’t have anything to hide,” Hill said

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