In California and across the nation, body-worn cameras have become a part of many officers’ standard uniforms. While body and dashboard cameras are not mandatory in the state, large and small agencies have begun seeing the cameras as tools of transparency — and a way to keep officers and the public safe.
The shooting in Humboldt County was recorded by at least three different Arcata cameras and one CHP dashboard camera, videos that recently were viewed by CalMatters.
The CHP, one of the state’s largest police forces with a $2.8 billion budget, has body cameras for only 3% of its budgeted 7,600 uniformed officers.
“At this point, body cameras are a no-brainer,” said Nicholas Camp, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan who uses body camera footage to study officers’ communication and their encounters. “It’s one of the few reforms that both the [American Civil Liberties Union] and police agencies have supported. So it is surprising that such a large agency hasn’t adopted them.”
California’s highway police make around 2 million stops a year, encounters that mostly happen within range of dashboard cameras. But, the agency’s tentacles extend beyond the state’s crowded highways.