Deputies to test body cameras

05/01/2014
The Marin County Sheriff’s Office plans to test the effectiveness of implementing on-body cameras for its deputies, contrary to a finding in a February Civil Grand Jury report, “Get the Picture? Audiovisual Technology and Marin Law Enforcement,” which recommended purchasing the cameras that can be attached to hats, collars or glasses. Studies in other jurisdictions found the technology reduced citizen complaints and increased officer safety, the jury found. In his official response to the report, Sheriff Robert Doyle said the department has expressed a willingness to purchase the on-body cameras, contrary to the report’s claims, and already had conversations with at least two manufacturers. (He said he tried to correct errors after receiving a draft, but was told the report would not be changed.) Within several months, the department will likely implement a pilot program to test data storage as well as the quality and durability of the recorders, Mr. Doyle added. Grants will likely be available, so funding will not be an issue, the Board of Supervisors said in its official response this week. “I think it is important there is testing of this equipment,” Supervisor Kathrin Sears said. “When I was with the Attorney General’s Office, we had undercover cameras that always excited people, but inevitably, when we sent people out into the field, there were so many malfunctions. It was unbelievable. The technology sounds really cool, but a lot of the times the field conditions are less than ideal.” — C. Peak