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Veteran Calif. Cops Question Use of On-Body Video

April 08, 2013  | 

The Rialto (Calif.) Police Department has rolled out on-body video for patrol officers, a move some officers liken to "big brother" monitoring.

Rialto PD's Chief William Farrar told the New York Times the TASER Axon systems being tested through July should improve police-community relations and lower citizen complaints against officers.

"It wasn’t the easiest sell," Chief Farrar said, especially to some older officers who initially were "questioning why 'big brother' should see everything they do."

The chief responded that officers shouldn't rely on a "partial picture of what occurred" from a citizen's cell phone.

Comments (13)

Displaying 1 - 13 of 13

D. @ 4/8/2013 6:53 PM

I work near Rialto, and I know some of the Rialto, CA officers. Have actually had them back me on some calls. Good people for the most part. The only reason a "veteran" officer from any agency would protest "Big brother" is because they are doing things they shouldn't be doing. Plain and simple. Do the right thing, for the right reason, even when no one else is looking!!!! Because it is the right thing to do. If you model career this way, the only thing an on-body video camera will do, is shut up the stupid citizens who think they know the law.

Capt. Crunch @ 4/8/2013 7:12 PM

8 to 12 hours a day for 20 years in a fish bowl I don't think so.

Steve1144 @ 4/8/2013 7:52 PM

This "big brother" attitude is frankly getting a bit long in the tooth. Guess what fellow LE brothers and sisters, we are already in a fishbowl and if you haven't yet noticed, nearly every 11 year old has a cell phone with a video camera in it. What do you want presented on the 6 o'clock news, only the after fact video (a la Rodney King or do you want something that records the entire story? The Axon systems have a 30 sec buffer so they actually record what happens before the officer turns the unit on.
My agency tested it and all of my deputies were extremely supportive of the system. After all, we already carry belt recorders. Not only that, the officer controls whether they want to activate the camera system or not.

The only issue we had was the size (each generation is getting smaller) and the amount of network bandwidth used when transmitting data for storage.

I view body cameras as the wave of the future and just another way we can show that we are ALREADY doing the right thing

Kirtgan @ 4/8/2013 8:45 PM

Why is this an article? So they can put a headline that makes cops look like they are hiding things? No report of a particular officer complaining. Some may feel like they are be treated like kids, but most complaints at my department are about user problems with new tech. The chief, talking off the cuff, is just trying to make it look like he did something extraordinary instead of the just following the trend in policing.

Mike @ 4/9/2013 4:01 AM

It's nice that we have officers to willing to have their every actions monitored and to meekly be submissive to the Administraiton's desire to control every minute you're at work. I would like to know if there are any police departments that make their command staff wear these intrusive monitors?

Trigger @ 4/9/2013 4:36 AM

I guess my only problem withthe camera would be if you stopped to take an leak and looked down. Other than that I think it's a great tool to use.

Steve1144 @ 4/9/2013 4:39 AM

Mike I respectfully disagree with your position on this matter and feel your argument is a non sequitur.

Officers/Deputies choosing, or assigned, to wear these body cameras are not "meekly" submitting to the control of their adminstrations any more than they are by wearing what they are told to wear in there uniform policy or carrying the firearm their department mandates they use. The officers/deputies are not "controlled" like some science fiction "cyborg" when they are wearing the body cameras. The camera systems are activated by the officers wearing them WHEN they choose to activate them and, additionally, the systems do not have the storage capacity to record an entire shift, second by second, documenting every crass word or bodily function an officer may utter or emit during a 10-12 hour period!
Lastly, in regards to your recommendation that Command Staff wear these, remember the reason we are using cameras is to document our interactions with the public both for civil liability protection (i.e. complaints, UOF's) and for evidence documentation.

If Command Staff works in the field, then I highly recommend they wear the camera systems for all the aformentioned reasons!

With all due respect Mike, just look at all the things that end up on Youtube. Let's start using the available tools for our benefit.

Greg @ 4/9/2013 5:42 AM

Ihate it when this "justification" is made: " The only reason a "veteran" officer from any agency would protest "Big brother" is because they are doing things they shouldn't be doing. Plain and simple. Do the right thing, for the right reason, even when no one else is looking!!!"

True Big Brother watching you. But if you aren't doing anything illegal why don't you want your car/apartment/purse/briefcase searched....C'mon, it'll take an hour till the sniffer dog arrives and you want to go on your way"..oh wait, we use that line.

If the officer can turn his camera on and off (with no ability to delete the video) that would be OK...I don't trust anyone who wishes to bug me at work or anywhere for that matter. As the Reginald Denny tape showed, it wasn't used to protect the officer from incorrect charges, it was abused to show abuse when it wasn't there.

LawDawg @ 4/9/2013 6:14 AM

Ummmmmm Reginald Denny was assaulted by 4 suspects during the 1992 Rodney King/Los Angeles riots and it was filmed by a Los Angeles News Crew in a helicopter. What does that have to do with accusations against an officer?

abeese @ 4/9/2013 8:42 AM

I am not a rookie. I am a 12 year veteran with 7 years of inner-city police experience (and the 1983 actions to prove it). I have been using an Axon Flex system since the beginning of the year. It has captured some amazing video and has quashed potential citizen complaints and against me AND other officers. It has even prevented departmental charges after video clearly showed I could not see the unrestrained 3 month-old baby (who was uninjured, thank God) in vehicle I pursued.

As others have said, you are already on video. Look around you on your next call, your next traffic stop or citizen contact. Unless you work in a rural environment, I would almost guarantee that you will see at least one surveillance camera, dash cam or citizen recording your encounter. Why would you not want your next use of force, critical incident or antagonizing motorist who claims YOU were rude not on video from YOUR PERSPECTIVE? When the justification for our actions is based on what we knew/saw at the time of an incident, your best friend is video recorded of what you saw from your perspective. Face it, a law enforcement officer's word is not gold anymore. We lost that privilege with Mark Fuhrman in 1995.

AimFire @ 4/9/2013 8:49 AM

Having control of the "on" switch negates the "big brother" worry for me.

I requested and wear daily a recorder to protect me and document the facts on which i make decisions in potential conflict situations. I control the "on" switch.

I will be responsible for my decisions and actions regardless, and i accept and welcome that responsibility.

At the same time, i want a witness whose testimony is admissible in court and accurate from, literally, where i stand. Therefore my POV camera is a handy friend to have, from my perspective. I take it with me into public settings frequently off the job, for the same reasons.

To the extent reasonable, I want to avoid and to have protection both from physical threats and from litigation and public castigation resulting from disputed facts and the vagaries of eyewitness testimony, if any, to the extent that i can get it. POV cameras are a good tool from that perspective in my opinion.

DesertFuzz @ 4/9/2013 9:05 AM

Unfortunately a police officer's testimony means little without video evidence nowadays. Even when people are caught on video they still only see what they want to see. On the argument that the officer controls when the camera is on is BS. We all know that policies will be put into place as to when the cameras are mandated to be turned on, just like our dash cameras.
If the cameras are going to be used to "protect" officers then every person who makes a false complaint about the actions of an officer needs to be prosecuted for false statement and/or false report followed by civil action for slander, but we all know the administration doesn't want that because they will claim it will prevent legitimate complaints from being filed.
Personally I would go find the biggest greasiest bean burrito for lunch and when the urge comes to go to my "private cubicle" I just might forget to turn the camera off ;)

Capt. Crunch @ 4/9/2013 10:22 AM

Right on, DesertFuzz

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