Santa Clara Supervisor Proposes Body-Worn Cameras for Deputies

Santa Clara County may soon join a growing number of local governments to consider body cameras for its law enforcement personnel.

County Supervisor Joe Simitian raised the issue at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting last week. On Tuesday, he is expected to ask the board to direct County Executive Jeffrey Smith to review and report back on the feasibility of body cameras for sheriff’s deputies.

The supervisor hopes the devices could help reduce deputy misconduct, or allegations thereof. He referenced recent officer-involved deaths of unarmed men in both Missouri and New York.

"You watch these tragedies unfold and wonder, 'Will anything come of it?'" Simitian said. "I think something should come of it. I think we should ask ourselves what we can do, and I think this is something that is real and tangible that we can and should do."

Simitian cited a Rialto study which found a 50% reduction in use-of-force incidents and a 90% decrease in citizen complaints when body cameras were used. He also noted that the department has employed limited use of both body and vehicle-mounted cameras in the past with positive results.

“I’m really convinced that body-worn cameras can make a difference,” Simitian added.

The use of body cameras has proliferated across the nation and state in recent months. A similar proposal was approved by Sonoma County last week. Meanwhile, Gilroy, Los Gatos, Campbell, and Mountain View are expected to roll out their own programs next year.

Read more about the proposal here.