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Sacramento Law Enforcement Agencies Consider Using Police Body Cams


Police departments throughout the country, including Sacramento, are trying out body cameras on officers.

The video recording devices have become a hot topic nationally following the recent deaths of unarmed black men by police in Missouri and New York. 

On Capital Public Radio's "Insight with Beth Ruyak" Sacramento Police Chief Sam Somers, Jr.  and  Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones appeared together on "Insight to discuss police cams, the militarization of law enforcement agencies, how to better build relationships with communities and their response to calls for reform in policing practices.

Somers said the technology for police body cams can be expensive.

"We invested over $3 million in our in-car camera system," Somers said. "So now it's like, 'okay so, we're going to look at the body cams because people are asking about them, people think that we should have them, our officers actually want them.' And so now we're actually piloting them, going to do it. But you also have 'how much can you afford?'"

Somers says the cameras are a one-time cost. It's the ongoing cost of video storage that gets expensive.

Elsewhere in California, the Oakland Police Department already uses body cameras. San Jose could roll out its own program soon. And about 700 Los Angeles police officers will start wearing body cameras next month. 

Meanwhile, civilian deaths at the hands of police elsewhere in the United States this year have raised questions thousands of miles away from Ferguson, Missouri and New York.

Among the questions: Is it good for police to look, and to be equipped, so much like the military?

Both law enforcement leaders said it was important for agencies to, first and foremost, build relationships with the communities they are policing. Listen to the full interview here.

In addition, Insight has a series of conversations in the aftermath of grand jury decisions the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases. Listen to these interviews CapRadio.org/insight.

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