By Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel
CAPITOLA >> Capitola Police Chief Rudy Escalante made a solid case Thursday to invest $100,000 from a state grant in a set of nine patrol car and 20 body cameras for officers.
His most compelling statistic: In Rialto, after half the force was outfitted with cameras, use of force complaints dropped from 59 to 25, down 60 percent, and complaints against officers dropped from 24 to three, down 88 percent.
Capitola Police haven’t had in-car cameras since 2005, Escalante said.
The City Council voted 5-0 to approve the chief’s recommendation to buy equipment from Watchguard Video.
“As usual, our police department is in the forefront of serving the community,” said Councilman Michael Termini.
“It affords our citizens peace of mind,” said Councilman Ed Bottorff.
Gary Richard Arnold was the only member of the public to speak, and he favored the purchase of the cameras.
He predicted the cameras would protect officers from slander, deter criminals from running away when stopped and reduce the city’s insurance.
Sgt. Mark Gonzalez, who oversaw the process to meet with vendors, found the Watchguard system superior because it offers a 130-degree field of view.
Officer Kraig Evans, who was hit on Bay Avenue while on a motorcycle, said a recording would have been helpful.
He suffered a back injury when a woman rammed into his patrol car after a chase on Clares Street.
Termini asked about the lifespan of the body cameras, given the rapid advances in technology, and whether the city would have sufficient storage.
“It’s HD (high definition), you’re getting about as good as you can get,” responded Larry Laurent, the city’s information systems manager, who estimated five to seven years for the body cameras and longer for the in-car cameras.
He recommended getting the five-year warranty.
The system allows for 16 hard drives. The city is getting eight and could get more if needed.
The city will have to budget for replacement cameras, Laurent said.
Each body camera will be assigned, with one as a backup in case of recharging or technical issues.
Asked by Termini if the camera could be turned off, Escalante said that could be turned off if there were privacy concerns or a case involving a minor or a protected witness.
Escalante observed that videos don’t capture everything, noting sports where officials can’t conclusively determine who was out of bounds or who touched the ball last, “but right now we have nothing.”
He said “activity on the street” can be recorded and officers will make it known that they are recording.
Recordings will be for internal use and shared with the District Attorney’s office, he said.
Link to original article: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/general-news/20150410/capitola-oks-buying-body-car-cameras-for-police