Body Cameras Could Be Approved For Fullerton Police

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The Fullerton City Council, following right behind Anaheim, could approve a $650,000 agreement Tuesday to buy 140 body-cameras to be worn by the city’s police officers.

The agreement with Arizona-based TASER International, Inc. would cover the cost of equipment and data storage for the first year.

The proposal comes a week after the Anaheim City Council okayed $1.1 million to buy 250 cameras for its officers from the same company.

Police in the two adjacent cities have been the subject of major criticism in recent years.

Two Fullerton officers were charged but found not guilty by a jury in the 2011 beating death at the Fullerton bus station of mentally ill transient Kelly Thomas.

Back-to-back lethal police shootings in Anaheim two years ago of two young Latino men sparked outrage and a downtown riot of mostly Latino youth, shattering trust between the police department and the working-class Latino community.

Both Fullerton and Anaheim changed police chiefs as a result of the police actions. In the case of Kelly Thomas, a bus station camera captured some of the police beating and digital audio recorders worn by officers provided the exchange between officers and Thomas leading up to the beating. The audio also captured Thomas screaming he couldn’t breathe while being subdued and his final words, “Dad! Dad! Dad!”

The FBI’s Civil Rights division began an investigation after the jury verdict this year. An FBI spokeswoman said Friday the investigation still is in progress.

Fullerton officers have been using digital audio recorders for more than a decade, but body-cameras are quickly becoming the new standard.

“The capture of video evidence during police-related contacts … will serve as another layer of transparency,” the Fullerton staff report states.

Studies conducted by the Rialto Police Department show use of force incidents declined by 59 percent and citizen complaints dropped by 87 percent once body cameras were introduced, according to the Orange County Register.

The Fullerton City Council meets Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Click here for the agenda.

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