Law enforcement task force weighs cameras tested by deputies

The community task force created by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in the wake of the October slaying 13-year-old Andy Lopez on Monday reviewed body-mounted cameras being tested by the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.

Members of the 21-member committee were able to handle the devices in use by some deputies under a pilot program and ask questions about how the data is stored, used and protected.

Lt. Clint Schubel said the sheriff's office wants to strike a balance between privacy concerns and recording relevant interactions between police and citizens.

"We want to make sure we're picking something that's going to work for everybody," Schubel said.

Feedback from other departments switching to such cameras is positive. The City of Rialto reported an 87 percent reduction in citizen complaints since switching to them, Schubel said.

There are two cameras models under review by the sheriff's office, 12 by a company called Vievu, and five by Taser, the same company that makes the electroshock weapon carried by officers around the nation.

The key difference is how the videos from the devices are downloaded and stored.

The Vievu records the videos on the device, and at the end of the shift the camera's data is downloaded to a local server. The cameras cost from $600 to $800 each.

Taser's device, which goes by the name Axon, is less expensive, costing about $300 each. Data from the Axon is downloaded to servers at Taser-controlled facility in Arizona.

Sgt. Andy Cash said there are several advantages to the Axon. One is that the camera is always recording in "buffering" mode when it is on. When an officer hits record mode, the camera saves the previous 30 seconds and keeps recording.

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