Carlsbad police to start wearing body cameras

Posted at 4:26 PM, Jun 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-08 19:26:41-04

Following a final vote of confidence from city leaders, the Carlsbad Police Department Wednesday began completing arrangements to fully equip the agency's sworn personnel with uniform-worn cameras.

The City Council endorsed the program Tuesday, clearing the way for the recording devices to be in use by officers patrolling the coastal North County community as soon as possible, likely by August or September, officials said.

"Technology has already transformed our lives, and that extends to how law enforcement does its job," Police Chief Neil Gallucci said. "Body-worn cameras not only assist in the collection of evidence, but they can also
enhance public trust, which is critical to keeping Carlsbad safe and secure."

Prior to putting the equipment into everyday use, department officials will complete a policy guiding officers on when to turn on the cameras, when not to use them, who can access the resulting footage and when, and how the collected data will be stored.

The department is reviewing national information, the experiences of other local agencies utilizing the equipment and input from the district attorney's office to draft the regulations, which will be available for public
review on the city's website before the devices go into use, said Police Capt. Mickey Williams, manager of the project.

Citizens are encouraged to ask department personnel about the devices, which will be clearly visible on officers' uniforms, and should assume the equipment is activated at any given time.

"We understand there is a lot of curiosity about body-worn cameras, and we want the public to have as much information as possible about the department's use of this resource," Williams said.

The annual cost of the program will be about $156,400. The city also will pay roughly $19,500 to install and $14,875 a year to operate an internet connection to upload the footage to a secure cloud-based storage system.

The city will use $114,812 in grant funding to buy the Taser-brand "Axon Flex" cameras. The department's personnel should be fully trained and using them in the field in two or three months, Williams said.

During a two-month trial that began March 1, six officers wore the recorders during their regular duties.

Other area agencies employing or testing body-worn cameras include the county Sheriff's Department and police departments in Chula Vista, Coronado, Escondido and San Diego.