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Council Remains Silent on Public Review of Patrol Car Recordings

City officials support a letter from Santa Barbara's mayor and police chief rejecting the county Grand Jury's call for access

The Santa Barbara City Council remained silent Tuesday while approving a letter to the county Grand Jury stating that the city won’t allow public review of video and audio recordings taken in police patrol cars.

The council voted to send a letter, authored by Mayor Helene Schneider and Police Chief Cam Sanchez, to the jury and did not comment on the item.

Last fall, the grand jury found that every law-enforcement agency in the county, except the Santa Barbara and Guadalupe police departments, had audio/visual recording equipment in their patrol vehicles.

The grand jury called on the city to install those cameras and make the recordings available to the public, a move it said would increase transparency and could actually reduce the amount of litigation brought against the department.

Although city officials agreed to install the cameras in the next two months, they said no to public access to the recording, saying it was “not warranted or reasonable,” according to the letter to the grand jury.

The letter states that any recordings taken can be obtained through the discovery process of a lawsuit, and that recordings that don’t have an “evidentiary nature” can be accessed through the California Public Records Act.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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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