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Sentinel staff report–
The Citrus Heights Police Department is moving towards implementing body-worn cameras for its 90-some sworn officers, as the department on Friday posted a request for proposals to be submitted to equip the force with a department-wide camera system.
Police Chief Ron Lawrence told The Sentinel in an email Saturday that he had assigned two of the department’s commanders to look into implementing body-worn cameras last year, with the pair conducting research and testing different models for potential use. He said the department has now identified funding for the endeavor, including a “potential grant.”
The request for proposals, often called an RFP, has a deadline of Aug. 6 for private vendors to submit proposals for implementing a department-wide camera system, with “at least 90 cameras.” The 11-page RFP calls for waterproof and shockproof cases, wide angle lenses, built-in Bluetooth and GPS, data encryption, continuous recording for at least 12 hours, and the ability to deactivate a “pre-record” feature, among other requirements.
Pending approval from the City Council, Commander Alex Turcotte said the department plans to have cameras be implemented “in early October.”
The commander said body worn cameras are “fast becoming an industry standard” for law enforcement, noting research showing the technology “not only enhances transparency for a Department, it can also be an effective educational tool for the community.”
Citing a University of Las Vegas study, Turcotte said police officers were shown to be able to “maintain proactivity with less use of force and lower complaints, as both officer and subjects know they are on video.”
The 2017 study assessed 400 Las Vegas police officers, some with cameras and some without, over a one-year period. During that period, the department saw misconduct complaints drop by 30% for those with body-worn cameras, along with a 37% decrease in use-of-force incidents among the same group.
Costs of implementing cameras and providing related data storage are a common objection to implementing body worn cameras. The Las Vegas study cited costs of $828 to $1,097 per officer, per year, but also estimated cost savings of more than $4,000 per officer annually from less misconduct complaints and investigations.
Another concern is over privacy, such as when officers enter homes with video cameras recording. The ACLU has also cited concern with facial recognition technology being used in connection with body cameras. That concern led to Assembly Bill 1215 being passed in 2019, which bans police from using face-scanning body cameras or other biometric surveillance technology in California.
Discussion about body-worn cameras in Citrus Heights has been a topic among city leaders in recent years, with the department conducting a study in 2015 to assess the costs, benefits and privacy concerns associated with implementing the cameras. Chris Boyd, then serving as police chief, said at the time that body-worn cameras would “likely” come to Citrus Heights, but expressed concerns about it being too early to implement.
Lawrence, the city’s current police chief, also commented positively about body cameras when he took the helm of the department in 2016. At the time, he said: “My position is that this is a valuable technology that will become a more common policing tool, but I prefer to wait until some of the issues are resolved to ensure Citrus Heights PD has the very best and most effective equipment.”
It appears five years later, that time has now come.
“I look forward to getting this technology,” Lawrence said Saturday. “I believe it not only provides a higher level of transparency for our community, but it will also safeguard our police professionals from false complaints.”
Want to share your thoughts on bringing body-worn cameras to Citrus Heights? Submit a letter to the editor for publication by clicking here.
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