Fairfield police officers get body worn video cameras

February 20, 2014 2:54:48 PM PST
Fairfield police have joined thousands of law enforcement agencies in 15 countries that equip officers with body worn video cameras.

The high-resolution VIEVU cameras that record audio and video are approximately the size of a pager, and they are highly evaluated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Lt. Stephen Crane said.

The cameras were issued to 100 police employees department wide, including the patrol division, traffic unit and special operations team, Crane said.

Law enforcement agencies say the cameras' technology do a number of things to better their work. Crane said the cameras would enhance officer safety, reduce liability, assist prosecution and case resolution and promote professionalism and accountability.

Fairfield police officers handled more than 91,000 incidents, made more than 4,400 arrests and seized 233 firearms in 2013, Crane said.

Twenty-three officers were assaulted while on duty in 2013, Crane said. There were 11 formal citizen complaints against Fairfield officers in 2013, nearly 50 percent fewer than in 2012, Crane said.

A study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police showed 90 percent of police misconduct allegations in which video was available resulted in an officer's exoneration, and half of all complaints were immediately withdrawn when video evidence was used, Crane said.

The San Rafael Police Department also recently began a pilot program with VIEVU body worn video cameras. Four officers will wear them for 90 days, and the program will be evaluated in April, police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said.

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