The Anaheim City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved funding $1.15 million for the purchase of 250 video cameras to be worn by police officers, a move Chief of Police Raul Quezada says will make his department more transparent in encounters with the public.
The vote makes the Anaheim PD one of the first law enforcement agencies in Orange County to require its officers to use body-worn video cameras, which will replace audio recorders officers have been using for about a year and a half when responding to calls.
Quezada said the cameras, which will be affixed to the front of officers’ uniforms beginning in November and in full use by April, are an example of his agency’s push to remain at the forefront of innovative ways to protect and serve the community.
The Anaheim PD had been testing the body-worn cameras for more than 18 months. Twenty officer test groups tried out 11 different body-worn camera options from various manufacturers before settling on the Taser Axon platform.
Mayor Tom Tait said the body-worn cameras will bring transparency and accountability to both sides in police encounters with the public.
A yearlong study of body-worn cameras by the Rialto Police Department showed a 50 percent drop in use-of-force incidents and fewer resident complaints.
Quezada said the Anaheim PD is drafting policies and procedures that will respect the privacy of those his camera-wearing officers come in contact with, such as victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. He noted that the Anaheim PD is prohibited from releasing medical information in most cases and also cannot release certain information about juveniles.
To help roll out and manage the new camera program, the Anaheim PD will hire a full-time civil liabilities investigator.
The $1.15 million price tag will cover the first five years of the program and in addition to the cameras will pay for digital evidence storage and all related equipment, services and upgrades.
Police in Fullerton and Laguna Beach have also tested body cameras and the Santa Ana PD is researching the idea.
Quezada, since becoming police chief in December 2013, has been taking steps to improve his department’s image with the public following back-to-back officer-involved shootings in 2012 that sparked unrest in working-class Latino neighborhoods that culminated in a downtown riot.
He said the FBI soon will acknowledge his department’s innovative approach to working with the homeless.
“Our Chiefs Neighborhood Advisory Council is becoming a model for how police leaders can partner with the community at the grass-roots level,” Quezada added. “And we continue to receive regular inquiries about the number of children who participate in our Jr. Cadet and Cops4Kids programs.”