The Richmond Police Department began issuing body cams to its police officers on Sunday, police said.
RPD purchased 120 “FirstVu” HD body camera systems that will be worn on the outer clothing of uniformed officers and will record cops’ interactions with community members.
Police Chief Chris Magnus has said the video footage captured by the body cams will be stored at a third-party site and can be accessed for criminal investigations, administrative hearings and internal trainings.
The department spent a year researching and testing the body cams and developing policy.
“Body-worn cameras are a necessary and important tool for the future of policing because they provide an audio/visual record of police officer activity and interactions with communities that enhances transparency and accountability,” RPD stated in a Facebook post.
The recordings “also offer a powerful and convincing form of evidence in criminal, as well as administrative proceedings – and they can inform officer training in ways that leads to better tactics and improved safety,” RPD added.
The body cams are the latest effort by Chief Magnus to increase transparency and reduce use of deadly force in the department. Previous initiatives such as community policing tactics, special trainings and equipping officers with Tasers and pepper spray have made RPD a national example on how police departments can dramatically decrease use of deadly force.
The killing of 24-year-old Richard “Pedie” Perez on Sept. 14 was the first fatal officer-involved shooting in Richmond since 2007. Before that incident, the department had averaged less than one officer-involved shooting per year since 2008, according to the Contra Costa Times.