The 18th annual Peace Officer and Public Safety Awards Luncheon brought together hundreds of men and women who protect and serve the Coachella Valley and celebrated their efforts to keep us safe.
The event Tuesday at the Hyatt Regency in Indian Wells took place as parts of Ferguson, Missouri smoldered after a night of violence.
“All of us are struck by how much harm is being done in those communities. A lot of innocent people are paying the price,” said Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff.
Sniff said we may never know what really triggered the shooting death of Michael Brown.
To uphold accountability and transparency across Riverside County, the department moved forward to equip even more deputies with body-worn cameras. The department bought 120 cameras. Some are worn by motor deputies in the Coachella Valley and all deputies in Jurupa Valley can voluntarily use them.
“This will be the first concerted effort in an area with one complete station with body cameras,” said Sniff. “What we have found so in complaints that come in, the officers are exonerated. The facts that wouldn’t be evident clearly come out the deputies did the right thing.”
The Sheriff’s Department’s aware it’ll be an enormous cost to provide 3,000 uniformed men and women with the cameras. It will have to pay for them and deal with video storage and retrieval issues.
Some officers from different agencies are on board.
“Put a camera, that’s even better for us because that way if people try to say ‘this was said,’ it’s all on camera. There’s no doubt to what goes on. It provides protection for the officer and the civilians,” U.S. Border Patrol agent Gabriel Barragan from the K-9 unit.
“I think the cameras are the smart way to go. It’ll be a while a while until they’re implemented across the department,” said Sniff.