San Jose Police Testing Out Uniform Cameras - NBC Bay Area
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San Jose Police Testing Out Uniform Cameras

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    Wearing police uniform cameras is something San Jose first considered years ago, then dismissed because they were cumbersome and expensive. Robert Handa reports. (Published Wednesday, May 20, 2015)

    Wearing police uniform cameras is something San Jose first considered years ago, then dismissed because they were cumbersome and expensive.

    But now, new technology and the nationwide controversy about police "use of force" have many police departments, including San Jose, getting officers camera ready.

    On Wednesday, the San Jose police gave the public its first look at a body-worn camera being evaluated by the department.

    Eventually, officials said around 600 officers could end up wearing uniform cameras.

    One of the cameras being considered is made by Vievu, which is extremely lightweight, the size of a pager and clips to the chest. The camera is similar to ones worn by officers in San Diego and other Bay Area cities.

    Officials said 12 San Jose patrol officers will field test three devices made by Vievu and Taser.

    "It's got to be small enough and not interfere with the other things we have to have access to," said Detective James Gonzales, who also serves as the vice president for San Jose Police Officers Association.

    Officials acknowledge recent high-profile cases involving accusations of excessive use of force helped lead to the new policy.

    "These cameras on officers are going to give you a picture of what the entire incident was like," Gonzales said.

    SJPD and the police union acknowledge the two sides had clashed on when to start the program, but worked together to get it going.

    "We've done the right thing and made sure the policy we're deploying these cameras with is a complete product that protects citizens and officers," Gonzales said.

    The police department and union said they will continue to seek public input on body cameras during the evaluation process. Officials said there is no timetable yet for implementation, but the police chief's office said it will move aggressively and with transparency.

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