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Police Say Body Cameras Already Prove a Boon as Accusations Against Officer “Debunked”

Published on Monday, November 28, 2016 | 6:45 am
Two Pasadena police officers shown wearing the newly issued body cameras.

Fewer than 20 days after deployment, police body cameras have already played a decisive role in disproving an allegation of excessive use of force brought against one Pasadena officer, authorities revealed Friday.

Police spokesperson Lt. Vasken Gourdikian said that the footage from the officer’s body camera “debunked” claims made by a suspect, who recanted when confronted with the video proof.

Without giving specific details, Gourdikian said a Watch Commander had reported the incident.

“During the process of being arrested, [the suspect] made an allegation of excessive force, and completely lied about the force being applied,” Gourdikian said. “Upon review of the officer’s body-worn camera, it was substantiated that the suspect did in fact completely make up a story. There was no use of force in that case.”

Officers are said to view the body-worn cameras as a useful tool in the performance of their duties and are embracing the technology, according to Gourdikian.

The cameras are putting, as Gourdikian puts it, a “third eye” into police operations.

“In instances where we have the citizen’s word versus the officer’s word, now we have a third perspective that may capture the incident, depending on the dynamics, and we’ll be able to review it and see if there may be validity to the allegations, or if they’re completely false and erroneous,” Gourdikian continued. “We spend a lot of our administrative time investigating what we believe to be false allegations.”

Gourdikian said officers from the Chief of Police down have been wearing the cameras for two weeks now. Everyone who’s assigned a body camera is wearing the cameras during the normal course and scope of their duty. Gourdikian said the department is currently tracking the data to monitor the camera’s effectiveness by holding everyone accountable.

Gourdikian said police expect to see a “sharp decrease” in complaints leveled against officers because of the body-worn cameras.

“People will know they are being held accountable – the police department and the community at large,” Gourdikian said. “These cameras will level the playing field to a large degree. So we anticipate decreases in those categories: citizens’ complaints against officers or allegations of misconduct, and use of force. We already have low levels in these areas, but we expect to see further decrease.”

The Pasadena Police Department deployed the cameras on November 7.

In June, the City Council approved the release of over $1.5 million for the purchase of the cameras.

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