SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The City Council Tuesday unanimously approved a contract with TASER International to provide cameras that San Diego police officers will wear on their uniforms.
The cameras will record interactions with the public. The department has been beset over the years with citizen complaints of sexual misconduct and racial profiling.
In a deal that, if renewed annually, could run for four years and cost $3.9 million, the city will acquire 300 cameras from TASER's Evidence.com subsidiary by the end of this month. Another 300 will be purchased in the upcoming fiscal year and an additional 400 in the following fiscal year, according to a staff report.
The Seattle-based firm will also provide the infrastructure needed for officers to download data from the cameras after their shifts and for storage.
The cameras record a continuous 30-second loop, so when an officer activates the device while approaching a member of the public, images of what occurred immediately prior to the contact will be available.
The report also touts a battery life that covers an officer's entire shift, and efficiencies that allow officers to upload the recordings and attach metadata without taking the time to log onto a computer.
"I think it's important to get this contract out, to get these cameras in and get them in use here throughout the city of San Diego," said Councilwoman Marti Emerald.
City officials believe the cameras will improve officer safety, protect them from bogus complaints and ensure accountability from both police employees and the public.
Councilman Scott Sherman said providing officers with cameras "changes the complexion" of interactions with the public.
In March, SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman said the cameras would debut with officers in San Diego's urban core of the Central, Mid-City and Southeastern Divisions. Their use will be spread across the city in the future.
Some cameras have already been in use for testing, and training on the TASER model began Monday.
The contract was approved by the council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee last month.