Grant to fund deputies’ cameras - Albuquerque Journal

Grant to fund deputies’ cameras

The Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office recently acquired the $30,000 it needs to outfit each of its deputies with a sophisticated body camera.

That was the relatively easy part.

Now the office, like many other law enforcement agencies across the state and country, is grappling with how to write a clear and comprehensive policy for deputies on how to use the tools.

“Nowadays, it seems like the officer’s testimony isn’t enough,” said SCSO Capt. Mike Traxler. “The public needs to see what happened on video.”

The office has been using some form of body cameras for more than five years, Traxler said, though deputies were told how and when to use them only in memos or special orders. Those orders were typically brief and simply required all “person-to-person” contacts to be recorded, he said.

The office just received a little more than $16,000 apiece through a federal grant and in the final fiscal 2015-16 county budget approved by the Sandoval County Commission to buy at least 40 body cameras. It hasn’t determined yet which model will be chosen, but they are hoping to find a product with long-lasting battery life and a flexible camera head.

Traxler said the office is taking the opportunity to craft a comprehensive standard operating procedure, or SOP, that respects the privacy of those captured on camera while staying useful as a tool to keep deputies and citizens honest. Officials have to consider federal medical privacy laws, the state victim’s advocacy laws and the Inspection of Public Records Act.

The Sheriff’s Office hopes to have the cameras bought and the SOP written by November.

Officials are also worried about the manpower required to go through videos frame by frame and blur or redact sensitive or confidential information, like Social Security numbers.

He pointed to a recent case in Seattle in which a man anonymously requested an immense amount of police records, including body camera videos. The request would have drained the city financially and halted a plan to outfit officers with body cameras. In the end, the requester and the city came to a compromise, according to the Seattle Times.

“We have to look at what the impact is going to be on our workforce to fulfill these requests,” Traxler said. “… That’s an unanswered question among a lot of us in law enforcement.”

He said the topic came up in a public records forum at a recent statewide chiefs-of-police conference this spring, with leaders of departments large and small concerned about how the technology would impact their policing and their SOPs.

Traxler said SCSO is not obligated by law or statute to record citizen contacts, but it has become an expectation among the public, especially with recent headlines drawing increased scrutiny for police both nearby in Albuquerque and all over the country.

“If the law said that we had to release a video, I think there’s some agency heads – even if it were mandated by law – that would refuse if (the video) shows a crime victim,” he said, specifying that images of victims of rape, for example, should not be subject to public records requests.

Home » News » Crime » Grant to fund deputies’ cameras


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
APD offers $18,000 a year incentive plan
ABQnews Seeker
Police officers with 19 years of ... Police officers with 19 years of service credit through the Public Employees Retirement Association, or PERA, are being offered a $1,500 a month incentive ...
2
Separate balloon crashes leave 2 with minor injuries
ABQnews Seeker
A woman and a juvenile were ... A woman and a juvenile were hospitalized after two separate hot air balloon crashes Friday morning on the West Side. New Mexico State Police ...
3
Tesla announces second New Mexico dealership
ABQnews Seeker
The new location will be located ... The new location will be located near Albuquerque on land belonging to ....
4
The anxiety of pernicious poisoning
ABQnews Seeker
Placitas residents seek answers at event ... Placitas residents seek answers at event related to the sudden loss of Big Blue
5
Special Shape Rodeo features 120 hot air balloons
ABQnews Seeker
An event where dinosaurs mingle with ... An event where dinosaurs mingle with Star Wars heroes
6
Delivering hope and friendship
ABQnews Seeker
'Pandemic Pizza Man' looks to inspire ... 'Pandemic Pizza Man' looks to inspire others
7
Vara releases two new sparkling wines
ABQnews Seeker
Vara Winery & Distillery has released ... Vara Winery & Distillery has released Silverhead Brut NV ($25) and Silverhead Brut Rosado NV ($27).
8
Lainey Wilson to hit the stage at the 2022 ...
ABQnews Seeker
Lainey Wilson will perform in Albuquerque ... Lainey Wilson will perform in Albuquerque at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, during Music Fiesta at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
9
Lobo hoops notebook: TV games announced, some dates changed
ABQnews Seeker
Every conference game to be on ... Every conference game to be on TV