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Growing concern San Diego Police are not activating body cameras

Oversight commission wrote letter to police chief
SDPD police car
Posted at 8:45 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 00:54:09-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The Commission on Police Practices is concerned that a growing number of police officers are not turning on their body-worn cameras when they should, according to a letter addressed to the police chief.

It has been about seven years since San Diego police officers started wearing body cameras. However, the new police oversight commission said a number of officers are failing to activate them in time.

Doug Case is the vice chair for the commission. He said body cameras are critical in reviewing cases.

"It's useful to the officers. That's also useful to the department and useful to us, so it's a win-win-win all the way around," Case said.

The letter to the police chief said "over the last year or so, we have observed multiple officers, across all divisions, who have failed to active their BWCs as required per procedure."

The draft letter pointed out in one case, "10 of the 15 responding officers failed to activate their BWCs per policy."

In a non-fatal shooting earlier this year in downtown, police said one officer turned on the body camera, but only after a first aid kit was retrieved.

"We're not quite sure why," Case said. "I don't think it's necessarily intentional on the part of the officers. It could just be preoccupation or forgetfulness, but regardless of what the reason is, it's something that we think the department needs to address."

The commission made several recommendations, including command staff conducting training of body camera requirements and a training bulletin to all staff on procedures. It also recommended that supervisor command staff physically review videos as part of audit compliance.

A spokesperson for the department said they are "meeting with CPP next week to discuss this memo and their recommendations."

"We just want to make sure that the cameras are used consistently, according to the policy," Case said.