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S.D. Police Testing High Tech Gear

— As part of a pilot program, nine San Diego police officers today began wearing camera-equipped headsets that will record the sights and sounds of their interactions with the public.

The 60-day trial run will help Taser International -- best known as the manufacturer of stun guns widely used by law enforcement personnel -- field-test the high-tech video gear while giving the San Diego Police Department a sneak preview of the technology.

The purpose of the equipment is to provide additional crime-scene documentation along with definitive records of police activity for in-house review and as evidence in court cases, SDPD officials told reporters.

Several other law enforcement agencies in the nation are also trying out the devices, which include a camera about the size of a large Bluetooth worn over an officer's ear, a control panel attached to the chest area and a hand-held recording component that can collect up to eight hours of audio-visual data.

The SDPD Mid-City Division patrol officers assigned to carry the gear over the next two months will use it to record most or all of their contacts with citizens, Capt. Manny Guaderrama said.

At the end of their shifts, the officers will download the recordings into a secure computer program that does not allow the information to be edited or otherwise altered, according to Guaderrama. At the end of the pilot period, SDPD Chief William Lansdowne will review the results and decide whether to seek approval from City Hall to obtain the equipment. Budgetary constraints, however, would likely rule out getting the cameras any time soon, the captain noted.

"It's not something that we're prepared to purchase at this point," Guaderrama said.

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