San Leandro police officers and other staff members assigned to work in the field are now equipped with video camera devices worn on the front of their uniform shirts, officials said Thursday. The cameras will record interactions with people that officers and staff come into contact with during their daily duties, police said. Research into the equipment began a few years ago, and the department has since tested several different types of digital recording devices before settling with a Taser International Axon model camera, according to police.
San Leandro police, one of the first departments to use the Axon model camera, say the most important purpose of the devices will be to build trust with those they serve. “We value our community’s trust and know the importance of transparency in the work that we do,” San Leandro police Lt. Mike Sobek said in a statement. Recordings will be used to document interviews of victims and witnesses during investigations, resulting in accurate reports of events, police said. In criminal cases, the recordings will be considered evidence, and may be used during trial.
Recordings related to criminal investigations will be retained in a secure storage server for one year, while all other routine files will be kept for 90 days, police said. Officers are prohibited from editing or deleting any recordings, according to the police. Supervisors will also have the ability to review recordings during audits of staff members to ensure professionalism, adherence to departmental policies, and for training purposes, police said. “Our research has shown that this program will reduce frivolous complaints against officers and will reduce staff time used to investigate them,” Sobek said.
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