Porterville officers to start using body cameras by beginning of next year

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Porterville City Manager John Lollis said there are many benefits behind the decision to do what many departments are already doing. (KFSN)

Porterville City Manager John Lollis says the police force hasn't received an excessive use of force complaint in more than five years. So when city council approved the purchase of police body cameras earlier this week, Lollis says it had nothing to do with bad officer behavior.

Lollis said there are many benefits behind the decision to do what many departments are already doing.

"Going to training, going to how services are delivered, and then ultimately for evidentiary purposes," he said.

In late 2015, Porterville police officers started testing body worn cameras made by Taser. That's the same company the Tulare County Sheriff's Office chose to do business with earlier this year for its patrol officers.

In Porterville, Lollis said all officers who engage with the public will wear a body camera on their chest.

"Over the last year, the chief and I have worked very closely together on this, as have his officers," Lollis said. "The officers are very supportive of (the cameras)."

The partnership with Taser is a five-year deal, with a total cost of more than 383,000 dollars. That includes 53 cameras, actual Taser devices used to subdue someone, and a cloud-based storage system.

"If you can think about the terabytes of data that's going to be collected with 53 officers and recording every public engagement that they have, that that will be a fair amount of information that's stored," Lollis said.

During public engagement, the goal is to avoid using force if at all possible.
And Lollis said data shows that when the body camera is on, public behavior improves.

The cameras still need to be delivered, set up, and trained on. But they should be street-ready by January first, if not earlier.
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