SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The number of major complaints by members of the public about the conduct of San Diego police officers has dropped around 40 percent since uniform-worn cameras were deployed, according to a report to be presented next week to City Council members.
According to the report, Category I complaints and allegations --involving arrests, criminal conduct, discrimination, force and racial or ethnic slurs -- fell from 234 in calendar year 2013 to 141 last year.
However, complaints and allegations regarding what the San Diego Police Department terms Category II complaints -- conduct, courtesy, procedure and service -- remained about the same, roughly 270, according to the report, which will be heard Wednesday by the council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee.
The report found that the results of investigations into the claims were more or less the same as before the cameras were put in use.
The SDPD began handing out the cameras to officers in certain divisions in the middle of 2014, and expanded the program citywide that fall and through last year. According to the report, 1,054 cameras have been deployed so far, including newer models with better video quality and low-light capability.
Canine officers are scheduled to receive the cameras next month, and sergeants, reserve officers and members of the Homeless Outreach Team will get them in July.
Officers activate the recording by pressing a button as they initiate a public contact. Because the cameras are always recording on a 30-second loop, pressing the button will save the half-minute before the contact so reviewing authorities can see the moments that led up to the contact.
According to the report, more than 727,000 videos have been stored.
The SDPD concluded that the use of the cameras has de-escalated some situations, led to fewer incidents requiring force, lowered the number of public complaints and reduced ambiguity of the claims.
The report did not address the department's policy over releasing video recorded by officers to the public.