Two Orange County police departments begin recording police encounters
By Souliman Maida
New technology could determine how justice is served in Orange County.
Police departments across the county are considering using body-mounted cameras for officers to wear on duty.
Recorded encounters give investigators more evidence to show in court, while protecting citizens who interact with police, Santiago Canyon College Criminal Justice professor William Blaska said.
Anaheim and Fullerton police departments are taking steps to use the cameras.
The Anaheim City Council approved the devices last month and allocated $1.15 million to buy 250 cameras.
Officers will begin wearing the cameras in November, and the entire force will be equipped by April, according to The Orange County Register.
Fullerton approved the purchase of 140 cameras for $650,000, taking the same route as Anaheim.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has been field testing for a year and a half, with a new camera to be tested next month.
Orange Police Department reportedly is not interested in the cameras. Santa Ana has yet to consider body cameras on officers.
Police brutality has received national attention when several cases triggered discussion about excessive use of force.
In New York City, Eric Garner was choked by New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo and died minutes later on July 17 after crying out “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!”
On Aug. 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Miss. 18-year-old unarmed Michael Brown was shot multiple times and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.
Matt To, a 43-year-old Santa Ana College student who has been in and out of jail since he was 18, says he has been the victim of officers abusing their power.
“Sometimes when you don’t listen or obey a direct order from the police they go above and beyond the badge. They tend to push, shove you, hit you, and that’s how they take advantage of you,” To said, adding that body cameras help deter this kind of excessive police behavior.
In the past two years, the death of two Hispanic males sparked riots in the streets of Anaheim.
Both deaths were spurred by confrontations with officers.
In 2011 another Orange County incident gained notoriety when members of the Fullerton Police Department were caught on video using excessive force on Kelly Thomas, a homeless man. He later died of his injuries.
Three FPD officers went on trial for the incident, and all three were acquitted, despite video evidence.
The cameras can help back up what happened when accusations are made and potentially reduce conflict, said former Westminster police officer and current SAC safety officer Joe Lordanich.