Police officers in Grass Valley might be adding body-worn cameras to their field equipment in the coming years, according to Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster.
“I think that if you look at what’s occurring in Ferguson, (Missouri), if that officer had been wearing a body-worn camera and the video was examined by the agency leadership then released promptly to the public, then hopefully what’s occurring right now would not be happening,” Foster said.
Following violence between protesters and Missouri law enforcement officers after the shooting death of Michael Brown, a black teenager, the mayor of at least one California city has called for the use of body-worn cameras by local police officers.
The recording devices also became the subject of a popular Internet meme after they were implemented in Rialto, near San Bernardino, resulting in a precipitous drop in both use of force and citizen complaints about officer conduct.
Foster said the cameras can be used as a tool to create transparency and improve relations between his officers and the general public. The footage produced could be used as evidence for use in criminal trials, but it would also provide a layer of protection for both citizens and police officers
“It just gives officers additional protection from having false allegations,” Foster said. “And it’s to the advantage of police agencies to put correct information out there so the public can draw their own conclusions.”
Foster said that at this point, his department is only evaluating the option of using body-worn cameras to determine whether or not it’s a good fit for the department. No official proposal has been brought to the city council for approval, and so far there’s no estimated time frame for implementation.
“We haven’t gone down this road, yet, other than the proposition of taking a look at it,” he said.
Still, respondents to a prompt on The Union’s Facebook page expressed broad support for the idea Tuesday morning.
“Yes, use the cameras,” wrote Amanda DuLac, a Facebook user listed as a Grass Valley resident. “That would definitely contribute to accountability.”
Others praised Foster’s proactive approach to this issue, or even offered to donate money to help cover the cost of acquiring the body-worn cameras, which currently run from $300-$400, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Grass Valley Police Department also hopes to upgrade its handheld radios and handguns this fiscal year. The equipment still functions, but it’s getting old.
“It’s just recommended after an extended period of time that they be replaced,” Foster said. “After so many years, the guns wear out.
“The radios that we currently have, they don’t even make the parts to replace them,” he added. “We’ve had them for probably 13 years.”
To contact Staff Writer Dave Brooksher, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.