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Riverside Sheriff’s Department Plans Phase-In of Body-Worn Cameras

July 1, 2016

RIVERSIDE, Calif – The Sheriff’s Department plans to field 1,000 Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs) throughout its patrol operations across the County at an estimated total cost of $1 million. The Sheriff intends to explore the use of BWCs in the jail and court operations as well in the long term.

During Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff’s budget presentation to the Board of Supervisors on June 20, 2016, he shared that his senior staff has been working with the County Executive Office to utilize potential available funding through County Risk Management to field Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) throughout patrol operations.

The Sheriff further outlined to the Board of Supervisors that if funding through Risk Management is not successful, the Department will utilize asset forfeiture funds to acquire the needed BWCs and therefore not impact the County’s General Fund to cover the immediate need in patrol operations. The implementation plan will phase-in the patrol BWCs over time so they do not all wear out together and then all need to be replaced at the same time at a later date. A measured roll-out of the BWCs will also allow the Sheriff’s Department to take full advantage of any BWC model improvements along the way and reap any cost savings for both equipment and technology upgrades that might normally occur over time.

The Sheriff’s policy covering the use of BWC units in field operations and the storage and use of the resulting video was issued in January 2016. The policy remains in effect for those BWCs currently in use, including those owned by the Department and any individual deputies purchased on their own.

The union that currently represents many line-level Sheriff’s safety employees, the Riverside Sheriff’s Association (RSA), filed lawsuits in early 2015, before the policy was created in an attempt to block BWC fielding. However, these lawsuits were subsequently withdrawn during the meet and confer process with all three impacted labor groups held from July through December 2015. In January 2016, after an agreement was reached on the BWC policy with all three labor groups, RSA yet again filed another formal legal action, this time with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) against Riverside County in an effort to block the fielding of BWCs. This action remains pending formal hearing, and the Sheriff’s Department is moving forward with its BWC fielding.

RSA took similar legal action with PERB in May 2015 against Riverside County regarding the Automated Vehicle Locator (AVL) roll-out in an effort to also halt that program after the impacted labor groups again had a chance to meet with the County and provide input on any potential effects to union members. The AVL system is a tool that makes use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) to enable remote tracking of a designated vehicle fleet to indicate real-time locations and proximity to service needs. The system combines GPS technology, cellular communications, street-level mapping, and an intuitive user interface. Throughout the world, automatic vehicle locating is used for managing fleets of vehicles of all types, including service vehicles, emergency vehicles, construction equipment, and public transport vehicles, like buses and trains. Like BWCs, the AVL is a smart use of technology to increase the safety of our deputies and other patrol staff, to develop potential operational efficiencies in the deployment of manpower to improve response times and reduce vehicle mileage expenses, and to increase officer accountability. RSA’s charge before the PERB has been heard and the County is awaiting a decision. In the meantime, like the case with the BWC program, the AVL system is already operational and in use, although being challenged by RSA.

Sheriff Sniff and the leadership of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department remain committed to providing citizens with efficient and professional law enforcement service, supplying those dedicated men and women who provide front-line law enforcement services with the best tools available to help them with their difficult jobs, and implementing modern technological advances, wherever reasonable, to advance those goals and keep them safe, as they pass in harm’s way daily while protecting our communities.

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