SDPD chief Shelley Zimmerman
Scottsdale, Arizona-based Taser International is touting lower reports of public complaints about use of force in the San Diego Police Department to peddle its Axon line of body cameras to other police forces throughout the country.
"The body cameras have proven to be a positive game-changer for our department and the San Diego community," says San Diego police chief Shelley Zimmerman in a press release issued by the company on Thursday, March 26.
A pilot program had 600 officers equipped with the cameras by the end of 2014, with another 400 expected to be outfitted sometime this year. According to a report delivered to the city council earlier this month, police complaints have fallen 40 percent, and allegations of misconduct dropped nearly 60 percent since the cameras were turned on last year. Police further state that "personal body weapon" and "chemical agent" use against citizens have both dropped since the cameras were deployed.
Still, the department reported over 16,000 incidents where physical force was used in 2014, a frequency activists say is still far too high.
While San Diego is touted as the model case in Taser's marketing, the release also refers to studies in Rialto, California, and Mesa, Arizona, that found significantly greater reductions in citizen complaints.
Earlier this year, the county sheriff's department formally began studying a body-camera program of its own amid concerns over the cameras' reliability, cost, and concerns raised over the privacy rights of citizens caught on tape.