Advancing Body-Worn Cameras and the Family Assistance Program

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on Advancing Body-Worn Cameras and the Family Assistance Program

“The recent spate of officer-involved shootings demonstrates that body-worn cameras, and the transparency and accountability they bring, has never been more important. It also underscores the need to support the healing of families who lost loved ones during these tragedies.

“On Monday, June 24th, the Board of Supervisors will vote on an additional $10.2 million in funding to support the acquisition of body-worn cameras. This comes on top of $32.7 million allocated since April.

“Shortly afterwards, on July 9th, the Board will consider creating a Family Assistance Program to help families devastated by the loss of a loved one during an officer-involved shooting, as well as community members reeling from the incident. It is imperative that they receive the timely communication they deserve and the compassionate help they need for their grief and trauma.

“Officer-involved shootings can cause significant trauma for everyone involved, especially the families. This can be compounded a lack of video footage, coupled with a lack of support for those affected, which could result in distrust, further pain, and even anger.

“In light of that, the Board has been steadfastly working towards the acquisition of body-worn cameras. In August last year, the Board approved my motion with Supervisor Hilda Solis to seek expert advice as well as a cost analysis. It resulted in a report — released this week — by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) whose recommendations included implementing body-worn cameras not only in the Sheriff’s Department but also in the Offices of the District Attorney and Public Defender.

“The Board is now reviewing IACP’s report, as well as a robust set of  recommendations by the Civilian Oversight Commission (COC) late last year on the same topic. Next month, after the County Chief Executive Office’s cost analysis is completed, the Board will be poised to vote on the initial rollout of the body-worn camera program.

“The COC also issued recommendations for creating a Family Assistance Program late last year, after hearing from community-based organizations and families who had received incomplete or contradictory information about the death of their loved one and needed help to heal. Acting on my motion with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the Board directed the County CEO to prepare a plan for implementing those recommendations. That plan was submitted this week.

“I look forward to the Board advancing the implementation of body-worn cameras and the Family Assistance Program, both of which I consider essential to the mission to protect and serve.”