San Diego Cops Keep Forgetting to Turn Their Body Cameras On Before Killing People

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William Grigg | The Free Thought Project

San Diego, CA — All patrol officers employed by the San Diego Police Department are now required to carry body cameras – but they avoid falling prey to the dreaded “YouTube Effect” by simply refusing to activate them when they could be of greatest use.

On two occasions during the past six months, police officers in San Diego have “failed” to activate their body cameras during incidents that eventually led to lethal force.




This has led the department to revise its policy to require officers to activate their cameras “before traffic stops, field interviews, detentions, arrests, and any other `enforcement related contacts’ – as long as it’s safe to do so,” reports the San Diego Union Tribune.

The “safety” exception, however, offers wide latitude for officers to avoid recording potentially lethal encounters. The department has now asked the company that manufactures the hardware “to see if technology exists that would automatically turn on an officer’s body-worn camera when they draw their gun from its holster.”

That request offers a powerful, if tacit, indictment of the discipline and professionalism of the San Diego PD’s rank and file. The department’s track record suggests that the request might have been made for purposes of public relations, rather than an honest effort to improve institutional transparency.


In early 2014, the SDPD purchased several hundred body cameras. This was done, according to former Chief William Lansdowne, in the hope that it “helps us with misunderstandings, and with lawsuits.” Initially, 100 cameras were purchased at a cost of $200,000. When Shelly Zimmerman took over as Chief in March of that year, she expanded the program to include every officer in the department. This prompted predictable push-back from the San Diego Police Officers Association, which complained that the proposal imperiled officer “privacy.”

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 2711 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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    They should be automatically fired.

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      They should be EXECUTED immediately.

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