What’s The Story Behind the SFPD Body Cam Program’s Many Delays?

By Alex Emslie

Updated Friday, 5:15 p.m.

When Greg Suhr took command of the San Francisco Police Department in April 2011, he had a scandal on his hands.

The city’s public defender, Jeff Adachi, had released surveillance video that, among other things, caught plainclothes San Francisco police officers in the act of illegally searching a room in a single-resident-occupancy hotel on a gritty part of Sixth Street, just south of Market. That video and others led to the indictment of half a dozen officers on a variety of corruption charges; four were convicted.

“We have no room in the department for dishonest cops,” Suhr said when he was sworn in, referring to the case.

But Adachi kept releasing incriminating video footage, prompting Suhr to announce he wanted to equip officers with body cameras to record searches. That statement — on May 17, 2011 — was Suhr’s first mention of a plan that eventually became a body camera pilot program.

Over the four years since then, Suhr has repeatedly promised that the department was very close to outfitting 50 plainclothes officers with the devices.

But the department didn’t actually buy any cameras until December 2014. And the pilot program never launched.

Instead, on April 30, Mayor Ed Lee, with Suhr at his side, announced that the city would spend more than $6 million to buy body cameras for the entire police department.

<em>Read the rest of this investigation at KQED.org.</em>



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