Santa Barbara City police patrol units will soon have an in-car cameras. The installation began today.
The city approved $225,000. for the project late last year. In all, 29 units will have the camera and audio system to record the activities of the police officers and show on a computer screen, the locations of their cars. Some of the images could be used as evidence in court cases.
The system also has capabilities to show the route a police unit has traveled, and the speed the vehicle was going during the drive.
The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury investigated the police department last year and recommended in car cameras.
One traffic stop, recorded when an officer was testing a system, has resulted in a court case. The incident involved a suspected drunk driver who is shown outside of his vehicle in a confrontation with police. A recording of the traffic stop was released by Police Chief Cam Sanchez. It is expected to be brought up in court.
The new system has high definition cameras. "The high quality of the video is amazing." said Sgt. Riley Harwood with the Santa Barbara Police Department. He said the detailed images are "much better than the old VHS technology we had years ago."
The department has been reviewing systems for about a year, before deciding to make a purchase from the Watch Guard company. Ray Murphy a Watch Guard technical engineer said the equipment is set up so that, whatever is recorded, can not be altered. "It's a checks and balances system so no one person can go in and tamper with the video or do whatever they want or try to erase the video. We have all types of passwords and everything so that this can't be done," said Murphy.