Wednesday, November 25 , 2015, 2:35 am | Fair 54º

Santa Barbara Council Approves Purchase of Patrol-Car Video Cameras

Recording systems will be installed in 27 police vehicles early next year, to the tune of $230,000

The Santa Barbara City Council has unanimously approved a plan to place dashboard cameras in all of the Police Department’s patrol vehicles.
The Santa Barbara City Council has unanimously approved a plan to place dashboard cameras in all of the Police Department’s patrol vehicles.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk file photo)

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

In-car video-camera systems will be installed into the Santa Barbara Police Department’s 27 patrol cars early next year under a contract with WatchGuard.

It will cost $208,368 for equipment — high-definition front- and rear-facing cameras and wireless microphones with a 1,400-foot range — and $22,798 for installation. The contract also includes four interview-room cameras to replace existing ones, so all Police Department cameras use the same system.

The Santa Barbara City Council unanimously approved the purchase Tuesday, and the camera systems will be installed sometime around mid-February.

The recording systems in each patrol car will wirelessly upload their footage at police headquarters on Figueroa Street, although the department might look for hot spots to upload elsewhere as well, said Lt. Dennis Diaz, police information technology manager.

Cameras can be programmed to record continuously and only in high definition when officers push a button — when they pull someone over, perhaps — to save storage space for the digital footage, Diaz said.

High-quality sound and long-range microphones were important to the department as well.

“We well know that some events will not happen in perfect view of the camera, so at least we’ll capture the event with audio,” Diaz said.

The system doesn’t include streaming video back to the Police Department, but the equipment has the capabilities to do so.

The department chose a system that was easy to use, requires minimal training, and has a rugged design so it survives the constant use.

In fact, the in-car DVR records in two storage locations so in the event the car is involved in a wreck, there’s a removable thumb drive so the video files can be manually uploaded. Cameras will be powered through the cars’ secondary batteries in the trunks.

The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury discovered that SBPD and the Guadalupe Police Department are the only law-enforcement agencies in the county without video-recording equipment installed in their patrol vehicles, and recommended that they both do so.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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