Weed PD to purchase on-body video cameras for officers

Deborra Brannon
Scott Valley Bank Branch Services Manager Anna Guzman presents Weed Police Department Chief Martin Nicholas with a $2,000 donation toward the purchase of on-body video cameras. Left to right, WPD Sergeant Steve Shannon, SVB Branch Services Representative Marlena Shaffer, Nicholas, Guzman, SVB Customer Service Representative Andrea Martin, and WPD Sergeant Justin Mayberry.

The Weed Police Department is acting on what Chief Martin Nicholas called “a big national push” for law enforcement agencies to outfit their officers with on-body video cameras.

Nicholas said the incident late last year involving a Weed Police officer and a Siskiyou County Sheriff’s deputy in which a suspect was fatally shot highlighted the need to be able to see what the officer saw and to have the evidence of what that officer experienced.

“We had video from the tasers used during the incident and also from the Greyhound bus station nearby, but not of the shooting itself,” he said.

Nicholas said officer safety issues will be partly addressed by the on-body video cameras, which will soon be purchased for the Weed PD.

“Although many agencies have in-car video cameras now, once an officer leaves his or her car there is limited video,” Nicholas said.

On-body cameras, also called bodycams, are mounted on an officer’s chest and are always on, Nicholas explained, but they don’t record until the officer pushes an activation button on the device.

“The recording includes an instant replay of the 30 seconds just before the officer activates the record feature,” he said, allowing review of the brief time right before the officer feels it appropriate to begin recording.

At the end of an officer’s shift, the on-body camera is put in a docking device and any video footage is downloaded to a secure Internet cloud server.

The department has been considering adding the new equipment for awhile, Nicholas said, but financing was a big issue.

Late last year the Weed PD approached Scott Valley Bank Associate Vice President Anna Guzman to ask if the bank would partner in the purchase of the on-body cameras. The bank agreed to donate matching funds up to $2,000, which was half the amount needed for the initial purchase.

Nicholas said contributions from the community and from The City of Weed’s liability insurance carrier, SCORE, “put us over the top” to complete the funding.

Scott Valley Bank presented the $2,000 check to Nicholas and members of the Weed PD late in August.

“Now we’re ready to finalize our decision as to which on-body video camera system to purchase,” Chief Nicholas said.

Because so many law enforcement agencies are going through the same process right now, Nicholas indicated that Weed Police Department would be able to contact several other departments and get their recommendations.

Once the on-body video cameras are purchased, he said ongoing costs such as cloud storage fees and maintenance will come out of the city’s general fund.