Capitol Alert

Police body camera debate continues in the Assembly – with a demo

Here's how police body cameras work

Peter Austin Onruang, president of Wolfcom, which makes body cameras, shows reporters how the devices work. Onruang says one unit costs between $250 and $400, depending on how many cameras a department wants each officer to wear. Onruang testified
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Peter Austin Onruang, president of Wolfcom, which makes body cameras, shows reporters how the devices work. Onruang says one unit costs between $250 and $400, depending on how many cameras a department wants each officer to wear. Onruang testified

As lawmakers consider legislation on best practices for using police body cameras, one company came to the Capitol this week to demonstrate its product.

Peter Austin Onruang, president and founder of Wolfcom, a Los Angeles-based body camera company, gave a demonstration of wearable recording technology for reporters Monday.

Onruang said his company’s body cameras are designed with police officers in mind; they clip onto standard police uniforms and have two cameras – to provide a backup in case one is ripped off in a fight.

The demonstration came just before Wolfcom’s testimony at the Assembly’s Select Committee on Community and Law Enforcement Relations and Responsibilities’ informational hearing on the use of body cameras.

“The devil is in the details,” said Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, on why he called the hearing. “I just wanted to educate (committee) members and the public about body cameras. A majority of members have never held a body camera.”

This session, lawmakers have considered a flurry of bills recommending best practices for law enforcement agencies that want to use body cameras. Many stalled during the session, including Assembly Bill 66, which in its first version prohibited officers from reviewing body camera footage before making a report.

Two bills, including AB 69, which requires agencies to consider best practices for the privacy and security of the recordings from body cameras, and SB 175, which specifies other topics a department policy on the cameras must address, are still alive.

Cooper, a former sheriff’s department captain, says he would like to see body cameras used by every law enforcement officer in the state. He said he’s not concerned about the bills that have died.

“This is a matter of how much should the Legislature be involved in this,” he said, adding that many agencies are considering the cameras on their own. “As long as we get there, does it really matter the route that we take?”

Andrew Holzman: 916-326-5545, @andrewlholzman

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