Monterey County

Salinas police chief says he'll seek funding for body cameras

Salinas Police chief wants officers to wear cameras

SALINAS, Calif. - Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin says he's looking into the idea of putting cameras on his officers, a tactic being tried by some other police departments in the country.

"It just makes sense that if we had first person video from the perspective of a police officer recording exactly what the interaction we could answer a lot of questions in a much more efficient way," McMillin said.

In Rialto, police officers wear the cameras on their sunglasses, recording each interaction officers have with the public. The police department there, which spent $100,000 for 70 cameras, has reported positive results thus far.

here's the real deal from rialto police- these cameras are worn on the officers sunglasses--100,000 dollars for 70 cameras--recording each interaction officers have with the public...the department recently came out with positive numbers from it's study.

"There were 54 officers involved in the experiment, we had a 60 percent reduction in use of force instances from 61 to 25," said Rialto Police Department Chief Tony Farrar.

The four officer-involved shootings in Salinas this year have created issues with public trust and some believe these cameras could help with that.

"i want to be clear, this is not about trying to get officers in trouble or because we don't trust our police officers --this is really about transparency and accountability to the people that we serve," said McMillin.

Still, while Rialto police are asking how any department could afford not to have these cameras, the Salinas Police Department is just looking to find a way to afford it.

"What we're going to do is approach the Measure V committee --Measure V is a local sales tax that we have in place here and it turns out there is one- time money available," said McMillin.

He'd like more officers, new police vehicles, a fence for the police department and body-worn cameras but that, he says, "is a multimillion dollar request."

While he certainly doesn't expect funding for everything on the department's wish list, he does plan to request Measure V funding for the cameras and new police cruisers.

"We've got patrol cars out there that are knocking on 200,000 miles," he said.

Each request is a public safety enhancement, he said, not a luxury -- but there's a lot of competition for that Measure V money.

"I'm definitely going to be competing with the fire department, with the public works department, with the libraries with the parks for this kind of small pool of money," he said.

That small pool of money could become a lot larger if two city tax measures are passed in November, and that's where the funding for new officers could come from.

"That's what we're looking forward to, that's our only hope to getting these really desperately needed resources," said McMillin.

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