Fresno city officials to vote on easier access to body camera footage as evidence

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Body cams are proving to be invaluable during police investigations, but the District Attorney currently relies on law enforcement to hand over video evidence. (KFSN)

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on whether the District Attorney's O0ffice should have easier access to body cam video from local law enforcement agencies.

But that possible change will not impact the Fresno County Sheriff's Office because it does not have body cams for its deputies.

Body camera footage has played a critical role in police investigations across the country, and here in the valley.

The sheriff said she has many concerns about body cameras but the main one is cost.

Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea thinks the DA's office should have faster access to footage body cameras captures.

"I think it's always an advantage to increase accountability to increase visibility," he said.

Right now the DA relies on law enforcement agencies to hand over video evidence, which Perea said, at times, delays the process of investigations.

"There's no question when I have to pick up the phone and call you and say, 'Hey, can I get a copy or CD or video, of course, that takes time," he said.

That's why he is hoping Tuesday the board will approve a Free Video Licensing Agreement that will allow the DA's office to obtain body camera video on its own through software from the company that stores the footage.

"We can access the technology through the cloud and any agency that connects to that same system will have immediate access to that data," Perea said.

That's data from the Fresno Police Department and Clovis PD, but not the Fresno County sheriff's office.

Its deputies do not wear body cameras but they do have cameras on their tasers.

When asked why they don't use body cams, Sheriff Margaret Mims said it's a matter of cost and public trust.

"It's much more than the original cost for the equipment, it's the storage cost which can be very, very significant," she said. "And the other issue is public trust. I like to speak about body camera in the spirit of collecting evidence to not build community trust."

Perea said if it's about money, the conversation on funding for deputy body cams has not come up yet.

"Her first decision is where in my current budget can I move dollars to do this," Perea said. "If she can't make that pivot then she comes back to us to ask for additional resources which she hasn't done yet but again that's her call."

The licensing agreement allowing the DA access to body cam video will cost the county nothing.

If approved, it will take effect immediately.

Related Topics:
body camerasfresno police departmentclovis police departmentfresno county sheriff departmentfresno countyFresno County
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