Call to Action Reduce Excessive Force Complaints by Requiring Officers to Wear Body Cameras

Discussion in 'Community Action' started by M, May 18, 2013.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. M

    M Muckraker Staff Member

    A camera is good cop's best friend, whether on the dashboard of his squad car, in the hands of a citizen, or worn on his chest. Good cops, who are doing their jobs properly and legally, have nothing to fear from video.

    Bad cops, on the other hand, have everything to fear from photography. A photographic record of their misdeeds is their worst enemy.

    In the last few years, Kern County has paid out $10,500,000 in just two major cases:
    • $6,000,000 in the case of James W. Moore, who was beaten to death in 2005 by as many as 14 Kern county jailers while he was strapped to a gurney
    • $4,500,000 in the case of Jose R. Lucero, a mentally disturbed man who was beaten to death in 2010 by several Kern County deputies in front of his parents.
    The beating death this month of David Sal Silva will likely cost Kern County taxpayers another $5,000,000 or more, and there is a good chance that the warrantless home invasion in a attempt to seize video evidence will result in an additional lawsuit and payout.

    So when all is said and done, Kern County taxpayers will have coughed up $15,000,000 or more, and that's just for the major cases. There are plenty of lesser cases to add to the tally.

    What Can Be Done to Address This Problem?

    1. Body cameras are a proven technology that reduces incidents of excessive force and the lawsuits and expenses associated with them. In a recent evaluation in Rialto, California, "wearable video cameras" resulted in 88% decline in excessive force complaints.

    All deputies and jailers in Kern County should be required to wear body cameras at all times when they are on duty. It is possible to equip all of Kern County's 572 deputies and 336 jailers with body cameras for less than $1,000,000. That's less than 10% of the payout in just the two major cases cited above.

    2. Citizen photography should be encouraged. All too often police officers (especially the bad ones) threaten or actually arrest citizen photographers on bogus charges of "interfering", "resisting", etc. The stated policy of Kern County should be to encourage citizen photography, and when such efforts are observed, officers should be handing out their business cards and encouraging those photographers to contact either the police agency or the county attorney if they photograph anything that warrants review.

    The cost? Business cards and good will are a lot cheaper than by far than attorney's fees and settlements. Every deputy out on the street can be supplied with new business cards for under $25,000. The additional evidence that is provided by citizen photographers could be worth a lot more.

    How Do We Accomplish This?

    Contact the Kern County Board of Supervisors and demand that without delay they:
    1. Purchase a wearable video camera and any necessary accessories for every Kern County Sheriff's deputy and jailer.
    2. Require by ordinance that these cameras be worn and functioning at all times when a Kern County Sheriff's deputy or jailer is on duty.
    3. Require by ordinance that no Kern County Sheriff's deputy or jailer shall accept assistance from nor provide assistance to any other police agency which does not meet the same standards with regard to wearable video cameras.
    4. Cause to be printed new business cards for all Kern County Sheriff's deputies that invite citizen photographers to contact the officer, the Sheriff's Office or the county attorney if they should photograph anything that warrants review.
    You can reach the Kern County Board of Supervisors at the following emails addresses:
    1. Mick Gleason, District 1, (661) 868-3650,
    2. Zack Scrivner, District 2, (661) 868-3660, (Share Your Ideas link)
    3. Mike Maggard (Chairman), District 3, (661) 868-3670, (Speak Out link)
    4. David Couch, District 4, (661) 868-3680, (Speak Out link)
    5. Leticia Perez, District 5, (661) 868-3690, (Share Your Ideas link)
    And for good measure, please copy the Clerk of the Board at:

    Kathleen Krause​
    Clerk of the Board of Supervisors​
    1115 Truxtun Avenue, 5th floor​
    Bakersfield, CA 93301​

    (661) 868-3585​

    Alicia Moore likes this.
  2. M

    M Muckraker Staff Member

    (I have more to post and am keeping this thread locked until I'm done so as to keep my posts together. In the meantime, if there are errors in the above, e.g. wrong phone number, bad email addies, etc., please use the Contact Us form.)
  3. M

    M Muckraker Staff Member

    This is the New York Times article on the recent evaluation of body cameras in Rialto, California. I haven't altered the wording in the quotes, below but I have bulleted the results to highlight the points.

    I think it's pretty clear that Kern County needs to adopt this technology without delay.

    If you register (free) at the New York Times web site, you can send copies of this article to people. We recommend that you copy and paste the following list of recipients for this article:

    and add a note in the message box that the use of wearable video equipment should be mandatory for Kern County deputies and jailers.

    New York Times (Apr 6 2013): Wearing a Badge, and a Video Camera

    Last year, Mr. Farrar used the new wearable video cameras to conduct a continuing experiment in his department, in collaboration with Barak Ariel, a visiting fellow at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge and an assistant professor at Hebrew University. Half of Rialto’s uniformed patrol officers on each week’s schedule have been randomly assigned the cameras, also made by Taser International. Whenever officers wear the cameras, they are expected to activate them when they leave the patrol car to speak with a civilian.


    The Rialto study began in February 2012 and will run until this July. The results from the first 12 months are striking:
    • Even with only half of the 54 uniformed patrol officers wearing cameras at any given time, the department over all had an 88 percent decline in the number of complaints filed against officers, compared with the 12 months before the study, to 3 from 24.
    • Rialto’s police officers also used force nearly 60 percent less often — in 25 instances, compared with 61.
    • When force was used, it was twice as likely to have been applied by the officers who weren’t wearing cameras during that shift, the study found.
    And, lest skeptics think that the officers with cameras are selective about which encounters they record, Mr. Farrar noted that those officers who apply force while wearing a camera have always captured the incident on video.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page

submit to reddit      Digg This          Delicious