You’ve probably seen the videos on YouTube captured on civilians’ cellphones, the ones that show the copes harassing people or making an arrest. But we’re not talking about those videos. We’re talking about the ones captured on squad car dash cams and the body cameras placed on cops’ chests and torsos. The videos that are increasingly becoming more widespread in Orange County DUI cases.
On Sep. 1, 2017, the Orange County Register ran an article on how Santa Ana police were rolling out body cameras for its officers, and how the department purchased around 200 cameras at the tune of $1.4 million. The funding was provided by the City of Santa Ana.
“Among the departments in Orange County that are using the cameras: Anaheim, Fullerton, Tustin, Huntington Beach, La Habra and Buena Park,” the Register reported last year.
In regards to body cameras, Arif Alikhan, the director of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Office of Constitutional Policing and Policy, told the Register, “It’s [body cameras] confusing transparency and accountability. We hold those who commit crimes as well as officers who may have omitted misconduct accountable. Investigations are not transparent for a reason.”
HOW VIDEO FOOTAGE IS USED IN DUI CASES
Generally, there are two types of video evidence in DUI cases: 1) the video footage that is captured on dash cams on patrol cars, and 2) the evidence captured on officers’ body cameras, which are usually attached to the officer’s torso.
The dash cam can capture the DUI suspect performing field sobriety tests, which is one reason why we do NOT recommend that people take these difficult tests. Field sobriety tests are not mandatory and there is no penalty for refusing; however, they can provide damaging evidence for the prosecution.
Body cameras on the other hand, capture the officer’s interactions with the DUI suspect, so much of what the suspect says or does is in front of the officer is recorded. If a suspect has slurred speech, or says they had nothing to drink but the blood or breath test says otherwise, the contradiction could be caught on tape, further discrediting the defendant.
Video evidence, especially on a body camera can actually help an innocent person. It can discount an officer’s account if it was wrong and it can in the case of police misconduct, it can be used to prove to the court what really happened.