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Santa Barbara Deputy Police Chief Responds to Grand Jury Report on Patrol Car Cameras

Frank Mannix says the Police Department is prepared to move forward with installing equipment if funding can be secured

The Santa Barbara Police Department responded this week to a Santa Barbara County Grand Jury report calling for cameras to be installed in all of its patrol cars.

Though police officials are supportive of the cameras, funding continues to be an issue, according to a letter from police Deputy Chief Frank Mannix.

The Santa Barbara City Council signed off Tuesday on Mannix’s letter, which will now be sent to Grand Jury Foreman Ted Sten and Superior Court Judge Brian Hill.

The Santa Barbara Police Department as well as that of Guadalupe are the only law enforcement agencies in the county that don’t have audio/visual equipment installed in their patrol cars.

The department has reviewed seven vendors about the cameras and has contacted every law enforcement agency in the county.

“We’ve installed two separate pilot projects to field test this technology and will continue to work with additional vendors to determine recommended features and capabilities of these systems,” Mannix said.

One of those test cameras was in Officer Aaron Tudor’s car Oct. 21 when he pulled over driver Tony Denunzio on suspicion of drunken driving. Some witnesses say excessive force was used by Tudor, but Police Chief Cam Sanchez maintains that no rules were broken. The video captured a portion of the interaction between the two, though the struggle moves out of view for a large segment. Denunzio is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 3 for a trial confirmation.

As far as funding goes, Mannix said the department is prepared to move forward with the project once funding is secured.

The department estimates that it would take $250,000 to $300,000 to equip the entire patrol fleet with the cameras. Mannix said the department has been allocating workers to other high-priority projects, such as modernizing the records and dispatch systems, among others. 

Now that many of those are complete, “the information technology staff is now prepared to devote their attention towards the acquisition and installation of audio/visual technology for Santa Barbara Police Department patrol vehicles,” Mannix said.

The City of Santa Barbara’s budget process for 2013 is also just beginning, so funding options are likely to be discussed in the future.

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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