UPD receives public input on use of body cameras

SALT LAKE COUNTY — Dozens of activists rallied outside the headquarters of the Unified Police Department to voice their support for the department’s continued use of police body cameras.

The UPD Board will soon decide whether to continue, expand or eliminate the current body cam program.

The issue has a personal meaning for Marvin Oliveros. His brother was shot and killed by Salt Lake City Police in November 2018.

“I am willing to fight this to the end,” Oliveros said. “I owe it to my brother, my family.”

While a different agency was involved in the incident that took his brother’s life, Oliveros believes more law enforcement should be equipped with cameras.

“Body camera footage is right now, the biggest pieces of evidence we are relying on,” Oliveros said.

Following the protest organized by Utahns Against Police Brutality, Oliveros implored the UPD Board to, at the very least, keep the current body camera program. He and others voiced their concerns during a public comment session.

According to statistics provided by Unified Police, 30 percent of its officers are equipped with cameras at a cost of $154,000 per year. Expanding the program to include the entire force would cost $455,000.

“The grant that we had for body cameras has expired and now the cost is going to be on the UPD,” said Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera.

She believes the technology is a valuable tool benefitting officers and citizens.

“Body cameras do bring public trust and they do bring transparency,” Rivera said. “My recommendation is, keep it the way it is currently, fund it and for us to gather more data.”

The UPD Board did not vote on the future of the department's use of body cameras.  The decision will be made at a later date.

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