Chief Savano Statement Regarding Body Worn Cameras

When I began my career with Petaluma Police Department in 1994, all our officers were issued mini-cassette pocket recorders which were activated during citizen contacts while responding to and investigating crimes. Initially they provided key evidence for spontaneous statements from victims and suspects as well as memorialized the reality of the challenges facing officers in emergency situations. The technology quickly evolved into also reducing citizen complaints and use of force incidents as the expectation has always been to record our enforcement contacts.

Cassette recorders were replaced with digital pocket recorders and our officers continued to use audio recorders until 2015 when our Department was one of the first to implement body worn cameras (BWC). We implemented our BWC program after adopting the recommendations of Former President Barack Obama’s Task Force Report on 21st Century Policing. Going from audio recording practices to video was a simple transition and has been welcomed and embraced by our staff in our service to the community.

Our BWC policy can be found in our Department Policy Manual under Policy 449, Portable Audio/Video Records and is available here for review or at the following web address:

https://cityofpetaluma.org/documents/petaluma-police-department-policy-manual/

Our current policy requires officers to activate their cameras for any public contact when responding to calls for service, conducting enforcement activities, or contacting a suspect. Exceptions to the use of cameras are restricted only for certain situations where the privacy of individuals outweighs the investigative nature of the technology.

Supervisors are required to conduct random review of an officers BWC to insure compliance with Department policies and procedures. Whenever a complaint is received a review of BWC footage is automatically conducted.

At the beginning of FY19/20 the City funded the replacement and upgrade of our BWC systems from 2015 to a state of the art cloud based system that has become the industry standard and provides the best practices for public trust, accountability, and engagement.

 

Police Chief Ken Savano


Our current policy requires officers to activate their cameras for any public contact when responding to calls for service, conducting enforcement activities, or contacting a suspect. Exceptions to the use of cameras are restricted only for certain situations where the privacy of individuals outweighs the investigative nature of the technology.

by Police Chief Ken Savano

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