Hayward police officers push for city to fund body cameras

bodycamHayward Police became the latest Bay Area department to request body-worn cameras as officers presented their case to the city council and the public.

Law enforcement agencies say it's a useful tool to protect citizens as well as the officers.

"Our intent is to have everybody in the field that's in uniform wearing one at some point," Lt. Bryan Matthews of Hayward Police.  

The cameras will record an officer's every move.  Officers say the body worn cameras will soon be a part of every department's uniform.

Unlike some Bay Area Police departments, Hayward is requesting a lipstick style camera which can be worn on glasses, hat, shirt collar clip or anywhere the officer wants.

Hayward police officers have tested several cameras over the last year. The department planned to ask the city council for funding to purchase roughly 130 of the units.  

"We can collect evidence with it. We can conduct interviews with it. We can document scenes with it. But the other piece of it is that it provides an accurate documentation of a police contact with a citizen," said Lt. Matthews.

Body cameras aren't new to the Bay Area. Back in May, KTVU showed the styles of cameras Walnut Creek officers were testing out in hopes of bringing them to their department.

Oakland officers wore the cameras during the Occupy movement.  Officers also used the video as a teaching tool, allowing officers to review what worked and didn't when dealing with the protesters. 

Of the three largest Bay Area police departments, Oakland is the only one who said that all field personal are using them.  The hope in Hayward is that the department will join Oakland in outfitting all uniformed officers with cameras within the next year. 

But before that happens, the city council has to approve the request.  Law enforcement leaders are still ironing out the details. 

"We are in the process of drafting a comprehensive policy that would govern when these are used and when they aren't used. It will cover the retention policy that we will have,"  said Lt. Matthews.

By Paul Chambers / KTVU.com

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