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SDPD kicks off headset pilot project

February 23, 2010 - 11:35 am

Nine San Diego Police officers will be wearing head-mounted, audio/video recording devices for the next 60 days as part of a pilot project in conjunction with TASER International, the company that manufacturers the devices. All of the officers are from the Mid-City division. The device, called the AXON, resembles a Bluetooth headset.

Jim Halsted, TASER’s vice president of law enforcement sales, and SDPD Assistant Chief Bob Kanaski talked to the press about the cameras this morning. Kanaski said the department was working on policies that will dictate how and when the cameras will be used. When asked how the San Diego Police Officers Association felt about the cameras, Kanaski said he was going to talk to SDPOA president Brian Marvel later today.

Halsted said the point of the cameras was to “protect the truth.”

“If it’s a question of how evidence was collected… it’s no more he said/she said,” he said.

In December, San Jose launched a similar pilot project, joining a number of other cities who have tried out the headsets. All costs are being covered by TASER. According to AXON’s website, outfitting 200 officers with the devices would cost roughly $1.2 million for three years. Kanaski said that the police department has no money in the budget to continue use of the devices beyond the pilot. Though Halsted said that there are grants available if the department opted to apply for them.

Currently, the SDPD doesn’t use any sort of official audio or video devices, Kanaski said, though some officers might carry pocket recorders to conduct field interviews.

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