The San Luis Obispo Police Department will be one step closer to body cameras should it get SLO City Council’s blessing on May 17 to move forward to seek a grant to fund them.
The department has already submitted the grant proposal to the U.S. Department of Justice, requesting funds to purchase 50 body cameras. The proposal was due April 27, so the department applied for the grant and told the council that the application would be revoked should a voting majority have any reservations. The department is asking for $74,060 and will provide the equivalent in matching funds. Those matching funds would be allocated from existing grant money received by the state for front-line intervention services.
The majority of the funds would be used to purchase the body cameras, data storage, and a third year extended warranty for the devices.
The department already has 10 body cameras, which are in use as a pilot project that kicked off in August 2015.
The use of body cameras has been a hot issue in recent years following a string of officer-involved shootings that made national headlines. Civil rights groups scrutinizing the use of lethal force by law enforcement say that body cameras add more accountability to the actions of police officers.
SLO Police Department Capt. Keith Storton said that the use of body cameras can also encourage citizens or potential suspects to act more compliant when interacting with the police.
“Law enforcement, in general, is being looked at to be sure that we’re following the laws, following our rules and policies, and that we’re treating people fairly,” Storton said. “By putting cameras on officers, we’re be able to see what the officer was viewing and experiencing.”
-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay