San Juan police officers using new body cameras


POSTED: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 4:19pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 7:01am

The San Juan Police Department is investing nearly $25,000 in a new part of their officers' uniforms.

These officers are part of the first police unit in Hidalgo County to use body cameras on the job.  The cameras can record video and audio from the officer's perspective and are worn at all times.

The purpose of these cameras is to provide better service to the public and also ensuring the integrity of their officers.

"It helps our officers to write better reports," explained Chief Juan Gonzalez.  "They can go back and refresh their mind by reviewing this video and audio making sure that we don't have any missed statements, missed comments being documented in the reports based on the audio and video recording."

These new Axon cameras are now a staple to the San Juan police uniform.  An officer will simply switch it on, wait for it to warm up, give it two taps to start recording, and they're good to go.  These cameras record up to six hours continuous video and 12 hours total.

Chief Gonzalez acknowledges that not all citizens will have a positive reaction to the body cameras.

"I know that the concern might be from the public, 'Well, I'm gonna be recorded, I'm gonna come out on video and it's gonna be in a file.'  Anything that's not essential to our case at that particular time is not going to be retained by our department."

Chief Gonzalez says the department is following all state guidelines on what can and cannot be filmed with these body cameras.  Any officers that misuse them will face consequences.

"Whenever you implement a new tool to the officers, sometimes there's gonna be abuse and there should be sanctions for that abuse," he said.  "We just wanna be on the prevention side to make sure that our officers are gonna be accountable for any misconduct they have on the street."

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