Chula Vista police expand use of body cams

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- The Chula Vista police department will equip 120 officers with body-worn cameras thanks to donations from the community.

“It helps us document better our crime scenes, our evidence, and our interviews,” said agent Joel Monreal with the Chula Vista Police Department.

Agent Monreal was one of the first officers to be outfitted with the new gear.

He believes it adds transparency and protects both officers and citizens while in the field.

“So we get a perfect picture of what we see in front of us or when we go through a crime scene,” said Monreal.

Pressing a button twice turns on the cameras. They are then able to record both video and audio.

Officers are required to turn the cameras on before an anticipated enforcement action. Officers who fail to turn the cameras on will face disciplinary action, according to the department.

“It tells everyone that we have nothing to hide and everything they do is being video-taped and captured,” said Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano.

Bejarano added that citizen complaints have dropped 40 – 50 percent among other departments since the cameras went into action.

“We have seen a reduction in force…it changes the behavior of both parties,” said Bejarano.

The department hired 40 new officers in 2014 and used footage during field testing as a form of training.

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