Torrance police deploying body-worn and in-vehicle cameras after two years of testing

Hoping to provide more transparency and safety, the Torrance Police Department has become the latest agency in Southern California to outfit its officers with body-worn cameras.

In addition, 50 vehicles in the force, including patrol and traffic black-and-whites and motorcycles, will be equipped with mobile cameras.

The cameras are coming after two years of testing and evaluation, Sgt. Ronald Harris said. Most of the officers have their body-worn cameras, while the agency is still outfitting the vehicles.

“When a new piece of technology is introduced, there can be some learning curves,” Harris said. “Our department took a stance to monitor other agencies and see if there are any concerns or issues they may have experienced.

“We wanted to get the most updated technology out there that would work well with our personnel and vehicles and interface with the systems we currently have,” he added. “We’ve done extensive testing and evaluation. We’ve been looking at this for a while.”

The department plans for the new system to be fully operational within a few weeks, Harris said.

The technology will be vital in providing timely information to department personnel and enhancing crime-scene investigations, Harris said.

Craig Shiosaki, president of the Torrance Police Officers’ Association, said the group supports the use of technology to enhance the department’s ability to serve the community.

“Body-worn camera recordings will provide a new platform for memorializing the professionalism of our members,” he said.

In February, the City Council approved a five-year payment plan for the cameras for a total of $1.5 million. That covers the purchase of 50 in-car camera sets, 222 body-worn cameras and 66 modems.

Of four options tested, the city went with cameras from Utility Associates because they can store video in a “cloud,” or internet storage system, without the need for officers to dock the cameras.

The Utility Associates cameras are securely mounted inside an officer’s uniform shirt, rather than attached to the outside. The department hopes this will allow for more stable video and prevent cameras from falling off during key moments.

The body-worn cameras will automatically start recording when an officer steps out of his or her vehicle. The in-vehicle ones, also from Utility, will kick on when the lights and siren are turned on.

Chief Eve Irvine also oversaw the implementation of body-worn cameras while she held the same position with the Manhattan Beach Police Department.

“This technology will also be a great tool for officers to capture evidence,” Irvine said. “I envision that our officers will continue to do their jobs professionally while keeping the best interests of the community in mind.”

Utility, Inc.