The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has been awarded nearly $600,000 grant to help fund the expansion of the existing Body-Worn Camera program. The U.S. Department of Justice grant is for the current fiscal year and next. The funding will cover the remaining nine patrol stations with staff, which do not have this equipment.
This grant, and local matching funds, will provide about 1,000 body cameras to uniformed patrol personnel working in all unincorporated areas and for deputies working with the contract law enforcement partners. The Sheriff’s Department has developed a fielding plan that provides a phased-in approach that will provide cameras throughout patrol operations over the grant’s twenty-four-month duration.
The Sheriff’s Department has conducted body camera testing and small scale deployments over the last eight years. The first station wide deployment of these devices to all employees began at the Jurupa Valley Station in March 2015. The Jurupa Valley Station deployment validated that the presence of these body cameras positively alters potential confrontations between deputies and the public contributing to a reduction in personnel complaints.
As a direct result of the Jurupa Valley Station testing process and discussions with the various employee labor unions, the Sheriff’s policy covering the use of body worn cameras in field operations and the storage and use of the resulting video was issued in January 2016. The policy remains in effect for those cameras currently in use.
Employees training will be based on that policy as part of a measured rollout of new devices. The Department will also look to expand their use beyond patrol to courts and jail operations after appropriate testing and study has been completed.
Due to the current budget challenges within Riverside County, Sheriff Sniff aggressively pursued alternate funding mechanisms to bring this technology forward in a cost effective manner. The grant requires the county to provide matching funds of an equal amount, which will be used to expand the existing internal storage hardware as well as provide about 250 of the 1,000 cameras to be purchased. The existing asset forfeiture accounts and County Human Resources & Risk Management Division will be the sources of the county portion.