By this time next year, San Jose aims to have body-worn cameras on every police officer on patrol.
The police department on Wednesday demonstrated two types of body-worn cameras — one that attaches to an officer’s glasses or hat and the other, worn on the officer’s chest. Both will be tested by officers on patrol starting July 20.
But a bigger question is emerging over just how they’ll be used and who will be able to access the footage.
Former judge LaDoris Cordell, who retired from her position as the city’s independent police auditor last week, said, “For the public to have any trust in this body-worn camera program in San Jose, it cannot have provisions that allow such subjectivity and give that complete discretion to a police officer."
Cordell further pointed out that she played no part in an agreement signed by City Manager Norberto Dueñas and the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, which permits officers to turn off cameras when they think there’s no further evidence to be gathered or investigating to be done.
However, at Wednesday’s demonstration, police said that stipulation was prompted by storage.
“Our policy is not that they turn it on and run it an entire shift,” San Jose police Sgt. Elle Washburn said. "We understand it’s important that the cameras provide that level of accountability and transparency to the community … but, at the same time, you know, we have to give some consideration to the amount of storage and what that means as far as costs for the city of San Jose."
Meanwhile, police also noted that city residents will not be allowed access to the cameras' images unless they’re pursuing legal action against the department.
“It doesn’t allow for citizen review,” said Washburn, adding that the department plans to "confer with the city attorney before releasing information.”
NBC Bay Area's Rhea Mahbubani contributed to this report.