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Alameda Police Likely to Have Body Cameras Late Next Year

Alameda police officers could be wearing body cameras by the end of next year.

Alameda police officers could be wearing body cameras by the end of next year.

Alameda residents that commute through downtown Oakland may have been affected by protests in the past two weeks over the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner, in New York City. Just as Ferguson and New York City police officers are being assigned body cameras, so too may Alameda police officers by the end of next year.

As it happens, Alameda police officers, through a mutual aid agreement, supported Oakland police in their response to last week’s protests in that city.

In an update to a prior discussion, Alameda Police Chief Paul Rolleri confirmed that his department has been testing body cameras over the past year, and that he hopes to present a final proposal to Alameda City Council no later than June of next year.

Rolleri told Action Alameda News, by e-mail, “the cameras alone are not prohibitively expensive, but the server costs are very expensive. Assuming that [approval of a purchase by city council] happens, it will take a little more time to take delivery, distribute them, and train our personnel on their use. That would take us into the fall of next year.”

He would not confirm, however, that video captured by the devices would be available through public records requests, saying, “I cannot answer that at this time. We will be reviewing other existing policies, consulting with the City Attorney, and drafting a draft policy for review. I am sure that there will be public discussion and input prior to finalizing the policy.”

Last fall, the police department refused an Action Alameda News public records request for data collected from automated license plate reader devices, saying it was exempt investigatory data.

Advocates of the cameras, which number among citizens and various police officials nationwide, say they can help document the facts in events such as the Michael Brown shooting, or, locally, such as a 2009 Alameda police arrest that led to claims of excessive force against the City of Alameda.

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