Body cams helping San Benito and Primera police

SAN BENITO — When police wear body cameras, citizen complaints go down.

Video also provides police with powerful evidence in cases like DWI and domestic violence, where a suspect’s demeanor can be telling.

That’s what police departments in San Benito and Primera found after their officers began wearing cameras more than a year ago.

“If I have a person come in to make a claim against an officer and I tell them I can play video for them, nine times out of 10 they’ll get up and walk out,” San Benito Interim Police Chief Michael Galvan said.

The same thing is happening in Primera.

“If the public feels an officer was rude or disrespectful or might have done something the person didn’t feel good about, they’ll come in and I’ll speak to them,” Primera Police Chief Manuel Treviño said.

“I let them know there is a video recording and I will review the recording. But most of the people that want to file a complaint, you tell them you have a video and a lot of people decide to just back off.”

Galvan said he had a case where a woman complained an officer was rude and was yelling at her and even assaulted her during a traffic accident investigation.

“I reviewed the video and I saw the officer was above and beyond courteous,” Galvan said.

“I said, ma’am, we went back and looked at the video. Where’s the assault? Where was he rude? Where was he yelling at you?

“You know, he never raised his voice. And she just kind of said, never mind, forget it.”

Galvan and Treviño both point to cases where video from body cams have provided strong evidence in a case.

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