SF mayor wants all city cops to wear body cameras

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ByVic Lee KGO logo
Friday, May 1, 2015
SF mayor wants all city cops to wear body cameras
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San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee wants all his cops to wear body cameras and he's allocating a lot of money to make that happen.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee wants all of the city's police officers to wear body cameras and, he says, he'll make sure they have the money to make that happen. It's part of a number of reforms in the wake of a growing divide between police and the community.

If there is any opposition to the mayor's plan, it is hard to find. San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr quotes a report which says that among police departments which use body cams, the use of force complaints had a dramatic drop of 87-percent.

"It's a win-win situation that protects good people on both sides of the lens," Suhr said.

Suhr says evidence supports bodycams. Bodycams can determine outcomes of civil and criminal cases.

A Marin County resident won millions of dollars in a lawsuit after he was tasered, repeatedly by a sheriff's deputy. His camera shot captured everything in the 2009 incident.

In March 2014 at Santa Rita Jail, an officer's bodycam records the moment BART and Oakland police officers take down a drunken woman so hard she began bleeding from the head and had multiple broken bones in her face. She's suing for excessive force. Her attorney's argument is simply, "The camera doesn't lie."

EXCLUSIVE: Woman files suit against East Bay police alleging excessive force

Lee believes that idea as well. He plans to give lots of money for police body cameras. He said he wanted to set aside "$6.6 million in our next two-year budget to fund approximately 1,800 body cameras for each of our officers that are on our streets."

The mayor also wants to hire 250 new officers over the next two years from five academy classes, the priority being recruits from the city's neighborhoods. San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen says that's a critical component.

"We need to also recruit, retain and also promote diversity within our own ranks," Cohen said.

The department received a grant two years ago that paid for a pilot program. They bought 165 bodycams but found that administering the cameras would be an added and costly expense which required additional funding. Now they've got it and more.

Meanwhile, on Thursday the American Civil Liberties Union launched a smartphone app to preserve videos involving police encounters. Through the app, the videos will automatically be submitted to their chapter of the ACLU. California is the latest state where the "Mobile Justice" app is available.