Drivers who get pulled over by motorcycle cops in Palo Alto rarely feel like smiling.
The Police Department's proposal to put cameras on police officers is unlikely to change that, though it may offer alleged violators a little reassurance about officer accountability.
Under the proposal that the City Council is expected to approve on Monday night, nine officers will be equipped with "body-worn audio/visual systems" as part of the Police Department's proposal to upgrade its video technology. The bulk of the $305,000 contract would go toward upgrading the video systems in police cruisers, a local fixture since 2006. The report from the Police Department states that such technology "has become instrumental in law enforcement training, evidence collection, and for officer safety and accountability."
The current seven-year-old system, the report states, is at the end of its technical life-cycle. The upgraded camera systems would provide "greater resolution and visibility, increased camera placement, and significantly improved audio capture that reduces background noise." If the proposal is approved, cameras would be upgraded in the entire fleet of 28 vehicles.
The body-worn cameras, meanwhile, are a new experiment. They would worn by patrol officers and members of the motorcycle-riding "traffic-safety team," allowing officers to capture video evidence when they are away from their vehicles.
In addition to the police equipment, staff is considering using audio-visual systems on Fire Department vehicles to "capture video during transport and incidents (and) to increase the safety and accountability of line personnel," according to the report. The contract that the council will be voting on includes funds to equip the battalion-chief van with a camera to "capture activities during major incidents."