San Francisco police recruits get pep talk from mayor on required body cams

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New recruits from the San Francisco Police Department got a pep talk today from the mayor on the use of new body cameras that will be issued in August. (KGO-TV)

New recruits from the San Francisco Police Department got a pep talk Thursday from the mayor on the use of new body cameras that will be issued in August.

Members of the community have called for the cameras since the shooting death of Mario Woods last December, but it's been a contentious issue.
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The Bayview and the Ingelside police departments will be the first to get the body cameras by the end of August.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was given a brief description of how the police department's new body cameras will function.

The department has purchased 2,080 of them at a cost of $200 apiece. Earlier, the mayor was joined by the interim police chief in addressing recruits who will soon be equipped with these new devices.

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"You're coming at a time when the technology is evolving and changing into the 21st century with body cams. Don't let anybody fool you into thinking that this is something that will hurt you. These things are going to help you," said San Francisco acting police Chief Tony Chaplin.

Their use is part of a number of reforms following a growing divide between police and the community.

The new policy, approved by the police commission, also states that officers will be allowed to review the footage only after they make a statement. The chief said it was an acceptable compromise.

"Most of the officers will probably write the report and never look at this because it will be a run of the mill report," Chaplin said.

In the end, the police union also gave its blessing to the body cams.

"The body cams will not be a panacea. This is not the end all. It is another vital tool that we can use to demonstrate to the public that we are doing it right," said Martin Halloran of the San Francisco Police Officer's Association.

A study published in 2015 by the Journal of Quantitative Criminology found when officers used body cams, the number of incidents involving force, decreased dramatically as much as 64 percent.

The department expects to have every officer wearing them by the end of this year.

Click here for more stories on the San Francisco Police Department.
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