TWIN FALLS • On Monday, the Twin Falls City Council learned a little more about how the police department plans to regulate the body cameras its officers will start to wear later this year.
Under the current plan, footage related to serious crimes such as murder or rape would be kept for 100 years, while footage in other felony cases would be kept for five years, and footage related to misdemeanors or citations for two years, Sgt. Brent Wright said.
Accidentally recorded footage with no value as evidence could be destroyed after two weeks, after the sergeant who supervises an officer reviews it and agrees that it doesn’t need to be kept, Wright said. Officers would be required to turn their cameras on when they expect to make an arrest, but would be allowed to turn them off at other times, such as when interviewing a crime victim or taking a report.
“What we’re trying to capture is enforcement action,” Wright said.
Public records requests could be made for camera footage and would follow the same rules as any other records request to the police department. However, Wright said, footage that is part of an ongoing investigation would not be released.
Wright went over the pros and cons of body cameras, pointing to Rialto, Calif., where complaints against officers dropped 87 percent when the department started to use body cameras. Both police and the public behave better when they know they’re being taped, Wright said.
At the same time, Wright said, the cameras show only part of a story and aren’t a substitute for gathering different types of evidence. To make his point, he played two videos — one from an officer’s dashboard camera, one from the body camera — of a confrontation between a police officer and a suspect in Texas, each version containing details that explain what happened that aren’t visible in the other.
Among other business, the Council also heard from Chobani president of corporate communication Michael Gonda, who talked about the yogurt company’s corporate values and philosophy and its efforts to improve the communities where it is, such as by donating to charity, getting involved the community, and by paying workers higher wages.
“Success is not determined only by top-line growth,” Gonda said.
Gonda also talked about the company’s future plans, including a planned $100 million expansion of its Twin Falls plant, a new line of yogurt-based dips and drinks, and plans to expand marketing into Mexico and the Caribbean.
“We’ll be using Twin Falls to launch into new territories and regions,” he said.
Councilman Don Hall said Twin Falls appreciates Chobani, noting that it moved to town during a time of high unemployment.
“You brought a lot of hope for people,” he said. “You brought jobs, well-paying jobs.”