With murder charges pending against three jail guards in the beating death of an inmate, Santa Clara County, Ca., supervisors promised this week to make the bold move of equipping jail guards with body cameras, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Only one other county in California — San Francisco — has announced a similar step, also in response to a scandal. Elsewhere in California, the priority has been on equipping patrol officers. Los Angeles County tested body cameras in the jails in 2012, but the technology was less developed at the time, prompting the county to opt for fixed surveillance cameras instead.
The death of Santa Clara County inmate Michael Tyree, whose battered body was found in his cell three weeks ago, prompted the supervisors to take several unusual steps to increase oversight of the jails. No one saw Tyree’s beating, although several inmates said they heard his screams. “Once we start turning over the rocks, we’re going to find some pretty ugly stuff,” Supervisor Joe Simitian said. The board voted unanimously to appoint a “blue ribbon commission” to examine the jails, and approved recommendations including more fixed surveillance cameras in the jails. In addition, Simitian and two other supervisors called for equipping the jail guards with body cameras. Supervisor Mike Wasserman didn’t speak at the meeting but is expected to approve the proposals when the issue returns to the board next month. Three correctional officers face murder charges in Tyree’s killing.