SANTA MARIA - Santa Barbara County law enforcement agencies are rejecting a recommendation from the County Grand Jury to make so-called "dash cam" videos of people caught on tape during a crime or routine traffic stop available to them.
They are captivating images that provide valuable answers and evidence for law enforcement and the public.
In its report entitled "To be Seen or Not to be Seen", the County Grand Jury wanted to know the legal basis for allowing citizens, parents or guardians access to patrol vehicle video recordings.
The Grand Jury believes if access is gained early in the process the number of citizen complaints and lawsuits might be reduced.
It its many recommendations, the Grand Jury wants all law enforcement agencies in Santa Barbara county to not only allow citizens to view dash cam videos of themselves but also be notified by law enforcement if there is a video recording of their encounter and when and where they can watch it.
"It would appear from the surface that the law enforcement community is not to willing to cooperate with the Grand Jury's requests", said Santa Maria City Councilman Mike Cordero during a brief discussion about the issue during Tuesday's council meeting.
The Santa Maria City Council added its voice of opposition to the Grand Jury report citing, among other things, the tremendous burden it would place on already stretched law enforcement resources.
"Its not a matter of not being cooperative", Cordero said Tuesday night, "I just want to make sure the public understands that this is truly a matter of just being unreasonable."
"They are not the catch-all for every single event that occurs out there on the street", adds outgoing Lompoc Police Chief Tim Dabney, "they are just an evidence gathering tool."
The Grand Jury says allowing access to dash cam videos will ultimate reduce law enforcement staff time and expenses and increase transparency of law enforcement activities at a time when the public demands it.
The Grand Jury also found that the Santa Barbara Police Department and the Guadalupe Police Department are the only two law enforcement agencies in the county that do not have dash cams installed in all of their patrol cars.
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