May 13, 2015
Lt. Robert Hinojosa says the Sheriff’s Office started studying police body cameras in the fall of 2014. “We had decided to purchase police body cameras back before all these recent problems in the news [police involved shootings] came about,” said Hinojosa. “This way you’re able to have your camera with you at all times, it’s your
backup for your car camera. About 70% of the time you’ll be in front of your car camera and need to walk away so you’re out of frame. With police body cameras, you don’t have that issue.”
The department has about 30 police officers. “Our police officers like them. They don’t have a problem with using them. One of the reasons I decided to go with the WOLFCOM VISION cameras was because of its size. We did a lot of research and a lot of the other cameras were big and bulky. I come from a patrol background and I wouldn’t want anything big and bulky that I wouldn’t want to wear out there on patrol. The VISION is small and compact and has all the same functions of the bigger bulky ones,” said Hinojosa.
Hinojosa says there are several features that the police officers really responded to. “Our police officers also like the rotating swivel lens feature, that’s a big plus… and the metal casing is a good feature. We had another plastic police body camera that we were trying out and it got knocked off and smashed in a struggle with a suspect, so the video was ruined,” said Hinojosa.
The attitude in and around the department regarding the police body cameras is positive. “We made it a mandatory police body camera policy that all officers have their cameras active at all times when interacting with the public. Our guys know they have that body camera on and everything they do will be recorded so they are mindful of their behavior. The public views it positively as well. As soon as we got the body cameras, the press came in and did stories,” said Hinojosa.
Use of the police body cameras has also cut down dramatically in police litigation cases. “In the past, we’ve had complaints issued against our police officers, were people come in and make complaints to raise it to a civil case level. They would constantly change their story and it usually turned out that they were just trying to get their way…. and now we can just pull up the video and prove them wrong. We had about 10 cases like that since we started using them and 100% of those cases, have been proven that the officer was right and the complainant was proven wrong,” said Hinojosa
“About a week after we got the cameras one of our homicide detectives was wearing his police body camera and a suspect basically confessed everything to him and said he did it. The guy was talking and telling him everything and the detective recorded it all on his police body camera,” said Hinojosa.