Beginning March 1, the City of Carlsbad Police Department will begin a four to six week trial of body-worn cameras. The initial test will include six police officers with the eventual goal of equipping all sworn officers and Community Services Officers with the technology.
“We are always looking for ways to be innovative and use technology to ensure effective police work,” said Interim Police Chief Neil Gallucci. “Body-worn cameras not only assist in the collection of evidence, but they can also enhance public trust and our ability to safely collaborate toward the common goal of a safe and secure Carlsbad.”
After researching cameras and vendors, the Police Department chose the TASER Axon Flex Camera for the trial because other agencies in the county are using the camera and also for its accessibility. During the trial, footage will be stored by the TASER Company under an agreement that will allow the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office access to the stored footage.
Along with testing the cameras, the Police Department is finalizing a policy that directs officers when to turn on cameras, when not to use cameras, who can access the footage and when, and how the collected data is to be stored. When complete, the policy will be available on the department’s website.
According to the project manager Captain Mickey Williams, in creating the policy the Police Department has reviewed national information, and has worked closely with other regional agencies and the District Attorney’s Office.
The cameras worn by the officers will be clearly visible. Community members should assume the camera is recording, said Williams, and they are encouraged to inquire about their use.
“We want to involve the community as we test and rollout this new tool,” said Chief Gallucci. “We understand there is a lot of curiosity about body-worn cameras, and we want the public to have as much information as possible about the department’s use of this resource.”
Other countywide agencies that are testing or have adopted the use of body-worn cameras are the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office, Chula Vista Police Department, Coronado Police Department, and Escondido Police Department.
TASER provided the cameras for the trial at no charge. After an evaluation of the trial, the department will consider purchasing cameras for 115 sworn officers and 11 Community Services Officers. The initial cost for the first year is projected to be $212,316. This includes the equipment, officer training and data storage. Subsequent years are projected at $123,148.