Inmates being processed into the San Joaquin County Jail will now be recorded whenever they’re interacting with a law enforcement official.
In his monthly video address to constituents Sherriff Pat Withrow confirmed that booking officers and those that interact with arrestees being processed into the San Joaquin County Jail have begun wearing body cameras to provide an additional layer of accountability both for the officers themselves and the public that may come into contact with them.
And even the booking cells themselves are now being monitored by cameras.
The decision to transition to body-worn cameras and add additional ceiling cameras, Withrow said, came as the result of a number of incidents that have taken place over the last several months inside of the jail.
Last year in December a man that was arrested by Stockton Police for public intoxication and booked into the San Joaquin County Jail claimed that correctional officers beat him during the process. Released footage from the booking area – which only covered the area outside of the cells – showed the man enter the cell normally and emerge bloodied and with facial injuries.
The Sherriff’s Office reported that the man had become combative with jail staff when he was placed inside of the cell – behavior that they claim included reaching for a correctional officer’s equipment, grabbing a female officer, and kicking at the staffers that were trying to subdue him.
Part of the reason why the footage that was released didn’t show the altercation that led to the injuries was a prohibition against having monitoring cameras inside of booking cells – something that Withrow said the department had to request special permission from the State of California in order to overcome.
“We’re making sure that we’re capturing everything so that we can show the public that we’re doing the right thing,” Withrow said.
Cameras have proved to be useful in holding correctional officers accountable for their behavior in San Joaquin County in the recent past. Back in 2018 two Manteca Police officers kicked off an investigation after they reported observing a correctional officer at the jail punch an inmate being processed that was handcuffed at the time. After initially reporting the incident to their superiors, it was forwarded up the chain and ultimately led to assault charges being filed by San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar.
The video of the incident was subsequently released as word of the investigation became public, and the Sheriff at the time, Steve Moore, released a statement stressing the need to hold bad actors accountable for their behavior.
Withrow took over the agency, San Joaquin County’s largest, the following year, and has since pushed for greater accountability for the public when it comes to interactions with law enforcement – going so far as to release a monthly video address outlining new developments that are occurring with the agency and updating the public on incidents that have attracted attention since the previous release.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.