Police Body Cameras, Child Safety Seat Regulations Could Be Coming to Nevada
A bill is heading to the governor's desk, which would require certain police officers to wear body cameras. SB176 passed both houses, late last week, and awaits Governor Brian Sandoval's signature.
A bill is heading to the governor's desk, which would require certain police officers to wear body cameras. SB176 passed both houses, late last week and awaits Governor Brian Sandoval's signature. The law already authorizes the use of body cameras, and requires certain members of the Nevada Highway Patrol to use them. This would require county and municipal police departments to do the same.
"As a public safety agency, it's all about being able to serve the public and do it well, and we think body cameras and the technology it brings, helps us do that," Lt. Eric Spratley, Washoe County Sheriff's Office said.
Spratley says the cameras will reduce the number of false reports and hold officers accountable.
"Years ago, when we started dispatching recording, just audio recording our transactions with the public, we saw a decrease in the sustained complaints against our officers," Spratley said.
The police agencies in Washoe County are teaming up to get each one on the same camera system, working with the District Attorney's Office.
"They're the ones that ultimately use the body-worn camera evidence, the video evidence that will come from any law enforcement contacts," Spratley said. "They're the ones that are going to need that for the court transaction."
The problem with implementing the body cameras has always been funding. This bill would allow each county's board of commissioners to increase a 911 phone surcharge. The current monthly fee is 25 cents per cell phone or land line. That could be increased to up to $1 to pay for the equipment.
"The police officers have always been supportive of this," Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas said. "It was always, initially trying to find the right funding source. We were able to find one and I'm delighted we were able to get it done."
The bill passed the Senate 20-1 and the Assembly approved it 33-9, in a bipartisan effort. Lawmakers who voted against the measure say they don't approve of the funding structure. Assem. Ira Hanson represents seven counties and says some of them don't have the budget to pay for them.
"Everybody likes body cameras," Hanson, R-Sparks said. "Most municipalities and various law enforcement agencies already are doing that and are working in that direction, but that's the only thing. I don't think we, as a legislative body, should be forcing costs onto the counties if they don't have the budget to do it."
The assembly could vote on a bill that would change regulations for child safety seats. Senate democrats have already approved a bill, along party lines, that would require any child, under eight years old and less than 4'9" to use a safety seat. Currently, any child under six years of age that weighs less than 60 pounds has to be strapped into a safety seat. The goal is to reduce the likelihood of crashes that result in kids getting injured or killed.
"I would never ever hope for any parent to have to live with that or having not put their child in that car seat," Assem. Michael Sprinkle, D-Sparks said. "So for me, even if it comes down to one person, this is an important bill."
Sprinkle says the safety seats help seatbelts fit properly, keeping children safer and avoiding any injuries that could be caused by a seatbelt.
"Often times, we see it riding really high on their stomachs, and it can cause internal injuries in your stomach," Sprinkle said. "So, you really want those safety belts to work as well as they're supposed to, by being positioned in the correct place."
Opponents say the measure is a "nanny state" bill, where the government is going to tell citizens what to do. They also argue that the current law is effective and safe.
"I believe that's a decision left up to the parents and let the parents decide," Assem. Jim Wheeler, R-Gardnerville said. "Some people aren't going to be able to afford some of these seats, as well. "
"I don't like the idea of punishing parents, if in fact, they accidentally or unintentionally don't have the right seat or the child's in the seatbelt," Hanson said.