FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 8, 2015
Unanimous Vote for Body Camera Bill in Assembly Committee
Support Building for Huff Legislation to Improve Public Safety
SACRAMENTO: Legislation designed to improve relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve is gaining momentum in the State Assembly after receiving a unanimous vote of support in the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee. SB 175, authored by Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), will require each law enforcement department or agency that chooses to require officers to wear body-worn cameras (BWCs), to develop a policy relating to the use of the cameras.
SB 175 would require the policy to be developed in collaboration with nonsupervisory officers to include the duration, time and place when body-worn cameras shall be worn and operational, the length of time video collected by officers will be stored, the procedures for, and limitations on, public and officer access to recordings taken by body worn cameras and to include officer training.
“My thanks to the growing number of law enforcement organizations, cities, counties and individuals who have come out in support of my legislation,” said Senator Huff. “It’s important that any policies set on the state level remain flexible so that local agencies can develop procedures that line up with community needs and agency resources.”
Evidence is growing that BWCs are effective for both police officers and members of the community they serve. A 2012 study of the Rialto, CA police department’s use of BWCs found that the devices resulted in a 60 percent reduction in the use of force by officers following camera deployment, with twice the number of use of force incidents reported among the group of officers without cameras. The report also found an 88 percent reduction in the number of citizens’ complaints in the year after cameras were introduced.
The need for a formal policy governing the use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement agencies was recently spelled out in a letter from the Peace Officers Research Association of California to Senator Huff: “Unfortunately, there are also agencies that have begun the use of body cameras with no structured polices in place, putting the privacy of officers and the public in jeopardy and leaving officers unprotected when it comes to potential personnel issues.”
Furthermore, the League of California Cities weighed in with the following letter of support: “This measure is an important initial step in assisting local governments, and local agencies specifically, in managing the voluntary acquisition and use of this technology(…)it provides much needed local flexibility.”
SB 175 is supported by the California Peace Officers’ Association, California Police Chiefs Association, California State Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police, City of Santa Barbara, League of California Cities, Long Beach Police Officers Association, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association and the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association (partial list).
Senator Huff serves as the Senate Republican Leader and represents the 29th Senate District covering portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Follow Senator Huff on Twitter at @bobhuff99.