Pauli Halstead and Lorraine Reich: Past time for body-worn cameras | TheUnion.com
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Pauli Halstead and Lorraine Reich: Past time for body-worn cameras

Pauli Halstead and Lorraine Reich | Other Voices

In 2016-17, the Nevada County Civil Grand Jury researched the expanding topic of audiovisual technology and inquired into the efforts of local law enforcement agencies to provide more transparency and public safety by recording their field activities using body-worn cameras.

Given the two shooting incidents in the past year resulting in death, in which sheriff’s deputies did not have body cams, the Community Oversight Task Force began an inquiry as to why not.

As reported by the Grand Jury: “The Grand Jury believes the information on this subject is sufficient to proceed. The advantages of body-worn cameras outweigh the concerns and even the associated costs. The Nevada County Civil Grand Jury calls upon the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, the city/town councils of Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee, and the police and sheriff’s departments of Nevada County to actively promote full deployment of body-worn cameras.”



The report of the Grand Jury continued:

“Aggregate studies thus far show that BWCs provide substantial value to law enforcement agencies and involved citizens alike, such as enhanced officer safety, de-escalation of situations that risk becoming confrontational, improved accountability and professionalism, reduction of time and legal expense in investigating complaints against officers, video identification of suspects, evidence for trial, and improved community and media perception.”



Former Sheriff Keith Royal’s response to the recommendation that the Sheriff’s Office should deploy and use body-worn cameras: “The recommendation will not be implemented. … While body-worn cameras can provide many potential benefits, they come at considerable financial cost. There is the initial purchase, as well as the ongoing costs of infrastructure, i.e., ongoing program administration, long-term maintenance and replacement costs, data storage technical support staff positions, data storage, backup and security costs, increased records staffing to process data requests as well as initial/continuing staff training. The Sheriff’s Office has not received any funding for body-worn cameras for Fiscal Year 2016/17.”

Nevertheless, the Sheriff’s Office applied for a grant and 18 months later, in September 2018, The Federal Office of the Attorney General awarded Nevada County funding for body-worn cameras in the amount of $123,000. The grant was awarded with special conditions and was subject to “all administrative and financial requirements, including the timely submission of all financial and programmatic reports.”

Among the grant’s conditions:

“Should (you) not adhere to all these requirements you will be in violation of this agreement and the award will be subject to termination for cause or other administrative action as appropriate.”

The term for completion of the requirements of this grant is ending Sept., 30, 2021.

On Jan.22, Sheriff Moon sent out the following request for proposals for body-worn cameras: “Nevada County is inviting proposals from qualified vendors to provide the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office with body-worn cameras, training and related accessories. The Sheriff’s Office is looking to acquire and integrate body-worn cameras into their existing in-car camera video system. The selected vendor will also provide ongoing maintenance, support, and training services on the body-worn camera system.”

These facts were ascertained following a public records request by our Community Oversight Task Force. We learned that the grant had been approved in 2018, and presumed the funds had been received by the Sheriff’s Office.

Given recent events, the Gabriel Strickland shooting over a year ago and the Sage Crawford shooting in February, it would have been beneficial for the sheriff’s deputies to have been properly equipped with the body cams, and hence the investigations would have the benefit of a “bird’s eye view” of the events as they unfolded.

The Community Oversight Task Force of Nevada County met with Sheriff Moon to understand why sheriff’s deputies were not outfitted with the body cam equipment at the time of those incidents. Sheriff Moon has assured us she is absolutely on schedule in purchasing the equipment and that the deputies will be fully trained by the September deadline.

Pauli Halstead and Lorraine Reich are members of the Community Oversight Task Force, a group of concerned citizens who are delving into the policies and practices of local law enforcement.This is part 3 of a series.

 


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