San Jose Police Department's policy on body cameras draws criticism

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - They're not even being used yet, but the policy on how San Jose police will use body cameras is already drawing criticism.

The San Jose Independent Police Auditor's Office that oversees complaints about police misconduct said it should have been part of finalizing the policy and it wasn't.

Soon, a dozen San Jose police officers will be outfitted with body-worn cameras to test for the whole department to use next year. San Jose Independent Police Auditor Judge LaDoris Cordell said the memo on how to use these cameras needs work.

"I'd like to believe this is a first draft," said Judge Cordell. "What's a little disconcerting is it's already been signed off by the City and the POA."

Judge Cordell went over major concerns with the agreement including a provision that allows supervisors to immediately resolve citizen complaints by viewing video on the camera. She said that allows police to police themselves.

She also has problems with how officers can deactivate the cameras when they no longer hold evidentiary or investigative value. She calls that "vague." She's also concerned how officers can view recordings before giving a statement.

"It tends to be biased in favor of the officers and not as objective as I believe they should be," said Judge Cordell.

"She's been part of the process in the front end and this is a piece we could have done a better job," said San Jose Police Chief Larry Esquivel.

Chief Esquivel said moving forward the independent police auditor will be part of the process but doesn't need to sign off on the agreement.

"It's an agreement," said Chief Esquivel. "But there's going to be opportunities for us to revisit."

The independent police auditor is hopeful her recommendations will not only be considered but included.