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87 Livermore Police Officers Outfitted With Body Cameras

LIVERMORE (CBS SF) -- All 87 Livermore police officers have been issued body cameras, department officials said Tuesday.

Livermore police spokesman Officer Ryan Sanchez said today that many law enforcement agencies locally and across the nation are starting to use body cameras, but he believes Livermore is the only agency in Alameda County to issue them to all of its officers.

President Barack Obama has encouraged police departments to use body cameras in the wake of recent incidents across the country in which officers have killed unarmed suspects.

Sanchez said Livermore's use of the cameras, which began on April 13, will allow officers to document incidents and interactions and obtain evidence during investigations.

He said the department will be able to review the video footage to analyze critical incidents and as a tool to keep officers well-trained and prepared.

In addition, the footage can be used when complaints are filed against officers.

The footage could help clear officers if they responded appropriately to incidents but could also sustain complaints if their actions were improper, Sanchez said.

The department conducted 14 months of research, testing and evaluation before issuing the body cameras to officers on April 13.

The department began investigating the possible use of body cameras in February 2014 and from May to July, several officers tested and evaluated various models.

The department eventually selected the body camera system made by Taser International and then focused on developing policies and procedures for using the cameras.

The Livermore City Council approved the purchase and use of body cameras last November. Taser International officials trained all officers about how to use the cameras over a three-day period earlier this month.

Although the body cameras have been issued to all Livermore officers, Sanchez said they will only be used by officers when they're expected to have direct contact with citizens, such as those on patrols.

At the end of each shift, officers who wear the cameras put their camera and battery pack on a docking station, according to Sanchez. The recorded footage that is collected from the cameras is automatically uploaded to a cloud-based storage system  managed by Taser, he said.

The footage will be stored for three years or longer if it involves a serious crime, Sanchez said.

The cameras cost about $1,000 an officer per year and it costs about $40,000 a year to store the footage, he said.

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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