By Annette Mullaney
San Francisco Community College Police (SFCCPD) will soon begin using body-worn cameras, following the Board of Trustees’ approval of their purchase at the board’s Sept. 23 meeting.
The bodycams will cost $93,600 over five years, which covers leasing 30 cameras at $52 a month per camera from Pro-Vision, who won out over three other vendors. The contract will be funded through the police department’s operational budget.
The request, submitted by Police Chief Mario Vasquez and Interim Chancellor Dianna Gonzales, called bodycams “an industry standard in law enforcement.” Vasquez further stated that bodycams, “promote accountability, increase public trust, provide supportive documentation for complaints, assist with investigations and prosecutions, improve training opportunities, and supports transparency.”
Bodycams have frequently been proposed as a tool to increase police oversight, accountability, and transparency, particularly following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and concomitant calls for police reform. However, the ACLU, among others, has questioned the effectiveness of bodycams and raised questions about their possible use to surveil civilians.
Empirical studies of the impact of bodycams have found mixed results, though a recent meta-analysis found that bodycam use reduced complaints against police by 17% and police use of force by 10%.
The cameras will not be going into immediate use following the approval. In addition to still having to make the actual purchase, the department will also need to complete its policy for their use and train officers. In the request for the board, Vasquez said that the department will be using Lexipol, a law enforcement training materials company, as the basis for the department’s policy, with modifications if necessary.
In a phone call, Sergeant Jessica Green said that the department hopes to deploy the cameras by January 2022.