Military police step up safety procedures by using body cameras while on duty aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Jan. 27.
MCAS Miramar is the first military base to implement a body camera program and enforce it throughout the Provost Marshal Office.
“Miramar PMO works closely with the San Diego Police Department,” said Lt. Col. Scott Rooker, MCAS Miramar Provost Marshal. “They were one of the first in the nation as a major city to take on the body camera challenge. They talked to us a lot about their training, policies and procedures, and some of the great results they were seeing. We decided to get on board.”
The main objective of the body cameras is to improve officer safety, added Rooker.
“I’ve seen a lot of occasions where the officers respond to a scene and just having the body cameras on helped defuse the situation,” said 2nd Lt. Christopher Rodgriguez, a Miramar police officer and watch commander. “If the situation does not defuse, the camera captures everything.”
If in an incident where the situation may escalate, officers will turn on the body cameras with the click of a button and record it.
“In the past, statements were taken for any incidents we were involved in, and in that statement, the officer swears that it’s true to the best of his knowledge,” said Rooker. “Then the other party comes back and challenges that, then it’s a ‘he said she said,’ and someone has to figure it out. When you have the video, it’s a lot harder to dispute the truth.”
PMO will take all videos collected and enter them as evidence, which officials can review later both as an investigative tool and for training purposes.
“Using the body cameras … it allows us to go back and watch it from a third person perspective,” said Rooker. “It’s a very good training tool for them to be able to go back and assess how they handled the situation.”
According to Rooker, the program is continuing to improve and demonstrate its value as a tool to both the SDPD and PMO.
“We’ve had several incidents that have made the camera well worth the time, effort and money we’ve invested, “said Rooker. “They’re better for officer safety, and they’re better for documentation. It helps our force become better police officers.”