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Danville council approves body cameras for police officers

Officials hope to have new equipment ready for use this summer

The Danville Town Council unanimously approved Tuesday purchasing body cameras for town police officers to start wearing by July.

It will mark the first time Danville Police Department personnel will be equipped with body-worn cameras while on duty -- an operational change that police chief Steve Simpkins thinks will improve crime prevention and officer safety while also promoting increased transparency and accountability for police and the citizens they interact with.

"We feel like this is the right step to take to help us document and investigate crime and accountability on both sides of the fence," Simpkins told the council Tuesday evening at the Town Meeting Hall.

The town is set to buy 35 new body cameras, manufactured by TASER International, that will have a battery life of 12 hours in recording time, capture video at 142 degrees and have pre-recording capability. The devices will easy to operate, easy to download and provide appropriate video and audio quality for use in court, according to Simpkins.

Officials plan to roll out the new cameras for department use by July 1, according to Town Manager Joe Calabrigo.

"I'm very encouraged to see this move forward," Councilman Newell Arnerich said during the meeting in downtown Danville. No residents spoke during the public discussion.

The police chief opened the conversation Tuesday by reminding the council members about a body camera he showed them as a sample during a town goal-setting workshop last month.

"We brought to you an example of the body camera -- how big it is, where it fits on the officer's uniform and the quality of the video taken," Simpkins said.

"Body cameras give us the ability to look back and view incidents and better prepare for court," he added. "These cameras will make our officers' job that much more effective."

Along with describing the benefits, Simpkins was quick to point out potential negative impacts. "The downside is that the video does not tell the entire story; it just gives a complete package of what was seen from that viewpoint," he said.

The video-recordings from the cameras will be retained through storage on iCloud for two years, during which prosecutors and the police chief will be able to access and view immediately, according to Simpkins.

The department's use of body cameras will be governed by the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office policy on mobile audio, video and body-worn cameras, Simpkins said. The town contracts with the sheriff's office for police services.

The camera equipment will cost $58,052 for the initial purchase and then require annual operating costs of $45,115 for ongoing use in the future, according to Simpkins. The annual charges include all data management, unlimited data storage, required maintenance and camera replacement every 30 months, he said.

About three-quarters of the initial purchase cost will be paid for using available town supplemental law enforcement services funds and the remainder will be covered by asset seizure funds, according to town officials. Future costs will become part of the annual police services budget.

Associate editor Jeremy Walsh contributed to this story.

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Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Dickita P
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 18, 2016 at 11:33 pm

Can't wait to watch what it's like to shoo skateboarders away from a parking lot, or respond to a noise disturbance at 8:30 PM on a Saturday!


Like this comment
Posted by Dickita P
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 18, 2016 at 11:33 pm

Can't wait to watch what it's like to shoo skateboarders away from a parking lot, or respond to a noise disturbance at 8:30 PM on a Saturday!


Like this comment
Posted by Dickita P
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 18, 2016 at 11:33 pm

Can't wait to watch what it's like to shoo skateboarders away from a parking lot, or respond to a noise disturbance at 8:30 PM on a Saturday!


1 person likes this
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Danville
on Mar 21, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Interesting (and repetitive...) response Dickita. I'm grateful for the recent police work around making arrests of criminals breaking in to local homes and responding to a recent tragedy where two people died. I feel comfortable calling on our police for issues that threaten the well being and safety of all my neighbors and find it unkind in the way you appear to characterize their jobs as trivial.


Like this comment
Posted by Richard
a resident of Danville
on Mar 23, 2016 at 5:35 pm

Dickita,
I'm offended by your statements. Sharon is correct. They do WAY more than you describe.

For example, 'Motoman' comes out the last week of every month and hands out absurd driving tickets like they're tic tacs!



Like this comment
Posted by Mark L
a resident of Danville
on Mar 24, 2016 at 6:13 pm

@Sharon, my back door was opened while I was at work which set off my alarm, and the police responded immediately. Nothing taken, and I am grateful for their quick response especially following two recent break ins nearby.

@Richard, I have not yet received a traffic ticket after living here and driving to work, kids to school, etc for over 30 years. I was present, however, when they responded to a traffic fatality and and when they assisted my neighbor during the death of her husband. I don't find these things trivial in the least. Perhaps if you were a better driver, you might find that you would not receive so much attention from them yourself.


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