SMPD Launches Body-worn Camera Pilot
September 9, 2016 10:45 AM
by Saul Rodriguez
Policing that works hinges on maintaining public trust. That’s why I’m proud to announce that the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) is implementing a Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Pilot Program. Beginning September 12, 2016, select uniformed police officers and civilian personnel will be outfitted with the cameras shown below. The introduction of BWC technology will assist SMPD in collecting documentary evidence for criminal investigations and administrative investigations while enabling SMPD to identify areas for growth, improvement, and commendatory actions. The department is working with researchers to gather and study data collected over the course of this six-month pilot.
SMPD recognizes the importance and necessity of securing and maintaining the public’s trust. The BWC Pilot Program is an accepted, contemporary method for the department to enhance both accountability and transparency while improving the services provided to the Santa Monica community. The BWC technology will supplement in-car audio/video recorders officers have been using for many years.
Following the six-month period, a comprehensive and measured evaluation will be undertaken to assess the program’s effectiveness in terms of legislative requirements, the needs of the police department, and community expectations. To maximize the value of this pilot program, SMPD is working with a research team from California State University Fullerton to evaluate the effectiveness of the worn camera technology and the best practices for handling the images obtained, to determine the overall effectiveness of the policies governing the operation of the devices, and to assess changes in behavior brought about by the presence of these cameras.
Maybe even more than trust, good policing takes communication. In an effort to best obtain the community’s perspectives regarding the BWC Pilot Program, SMPD will be seeking public participation in program surveys. I implore community members to participate in a survey by accessing our department website www.santamonicapd.org/bodyworncamera or by calling 310.458.8400.
PHOTO CAPTION: The placement of the Body-Worn Camera may be on the chest, belt or lapel area. Placement will vary depending on the officer’s preference. The Pilot Program will encourage use of all three areas to assist in determining the most suitable placement.