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City Police Chief: In-Car Cameras Provide ‘Litigation Protection’

Oroville Police Chief Bill LaGrone said the 25 police car cameras the City Council recently approved, a complement to existing body-worn cameras, will serve as proof of what officers encounter inside and outside their vehicles.

Twenty-five sets of police car cameras for the Oroville Police Department were approved for purchase during a regular Oroville City Council meeting Tuesday.

Police Chief Bill LaGrone said police vehicles currently do not have cameras, and purchase of new cameras will add redundancy to video evidence and add a layer of liability protection for the city.

“This is what I would consider a litigation protection piece of equipment that is necessary for the city to put into all of our patrol vehicles,” LaGrone said. “It doesn’t stop litigation, but what it does is limits your liability by providing a factual video log of what occurred inside and outside of our patrol vehicles.”

The cameras, to be supplied by vendor Axon, continuously record footage and, upon activation, save the last 30 seconds of video and continue to record until manually turned off, according to a staff report.

The cameras will also sync with the department’s existing body-worn cameras. The five-year contract approved by the council allows for unlimited evidence storage.

Aside from manual activation, the cameras are automatically activated upon collision detection, activation of emergency lights and sirens; exceeding a preset max speed; rapid acceleration and rapid deceleration; opening of prisoner compartment doors; and activation of body cams.

“It’s not only good for evidence collection, but it’s also good for looking at the event as it happened,” LaGrone said.

LaGrone anticipates a long wait time for the cameras’ delivery, and said the technology may be upgraded by the time it is delivered. The 25 camera systems are to include views of the officer’s compartment, the prisoner’s compartment, a view of the front and a view of the rear, he said.

“This is a good program, I believe, for our city ... in the long run I think this is going to save us money in the event that something happens that we’re not particularly proud of,” LaGrone said.

Councilor Janet Goodson said the issue of police car cameras came up in the past and was not favored because of costs.

“The purchase of a mobile audio and video system; it’s just essential. I would venture to say the reason why it’s coming back now is because of Measure U funding,” Goodson said. “This is an opportunity once again to thank the citizens in TV land and here; we thank you for passing and approving measure U to keep our city safe and our citizens.”

In addition to the police cameras, LaGrone requested a new camera system to be installed at the department’s interview room.

The council approved the contract with Axon for camera installation, use training and unlimited digital evidence storage for $395,320.20 and an annual cost of $79,047.63. The cost for the interview room camera is a one-time purchase of $35,492.14.

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