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Manteca Police may start wearing body video cameras
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The Bulletin

If you come across a Manteca Police officer in the coming months there’s a good chance you’ll be on camera.

Police Chief Nick Obligacion is asking for $33,500 to start testing and evaluating body-worn video cameras. If the test proves effective, all Manteca Police officers could eventually wear the body cameras that typically are placed near an officer’s collar. Some models allow for them to be mounted onto an officer’s glasses to give a much closer perspective to what the officer actually sees.

More than 3,000 police departments use the cameras — including Oakland and San Jose — to record officers’ encounters with citizens.

The police chief noted video cameras, such as the ones mounted on traffic motorcycles, have led to quick resolutions of complaints that officers may not have acted professionally when dealing with the public.

Obligacion said a quick check of the video almost always verifies the officer did act in a professional manner.

The department already has dash video cameras as well as video inside patrol units including prisoner cams that keep an eye on those who are placed under arrest and transported in the backseat of units.

The spending proposal for the fiscal year starting July 1 also calls for starting to replace dash video systems with a higher resolution system.

Police chiefs in other cities have cited the body video cameras as an effective way to quickly resolve — and reduce — complaints and lawsuits regarding the conduct of police officers.

They also are viewed by law enforcement leaders as a way to enhance the transparency of how police protect the public.

In addition stills and clips from the cameras have been accepted by judges for use as evidence in court cases.

Some proponents have referenced the body video cameras as “third party witnesses” that can help collaborate events that take place during an arrest or an encounter with police.

Some critics see the cameras an invasion of privacy. However, backers note if an officer is summed to a location that is not in a public place that the party is basically waiving their rights to privacy. To that end, proponents view the body video cameras as no different as citizens shooting video of police going about their business.

The actual body video cameras can cost between $220 and $500 apiece. The batteries typically have an average charge of 12 hours.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail