The Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to authorize Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff to move forward with plans to equip sheriff deputies with Body cameras.
The vote will allow the Sheriff’s Department to begin spending the $557,900 dollars awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice in September.
"Body worn cameras have proven to be very effective at reducing the number of complaints. They also help document incidents. Both use of force and also just the normal encounters between law enforcement and the public that occur thousands of times a week, millions of times a year," said Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Kevin Vest.
The grant requires the county to match the funding by 50 percent which Sheriff Sniff said has already been budgeted.
Body cameras will be worn by all sheriff’s deputies including police departments that contract with the sheriff’s department. The hope is that body-cams will improve transparency in law enforcement encounters with the public.
"There’s been numerous studies and also our own internal analysis has revealed that actually when an officer is equipped with a body camera both the public’s interaction with the deputy is better," said Vest.
"And I can attest to this from personal experience using an audio recorder, once you know you’re recording an incident you relax a bit and you become much more patient because you know that whatever is happening is being documented so that there can’t be unsubstantiated allegations made against you. So I think it’s a good calming effect on both sides, for the public because they know they’re being recorded and also on the other hand the officers assist a bit because they know the incident is being documented so they don’t have to worry about unfounded complaints."
Sheriff’s department officials say it will take about 18 months to outfit the nine remaining patrol stations that currently don’t have body cameras. Outfitting is scheduled to start in January of next year and will begin in the Coachella Valley with either the Thermal or Palm Desert stations.