Albuquerque Sheriff Draws Backlash Over Refusal to Use Body Cameras

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An Albuquerque sheriff is facing criticism after saying his deputies won’t wear body cameras, for fear that the media will use the footage to unfairly criticize his officers.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said his department does not, and will not, wear police body cameras, a decision fueled by his distrust of the news media. Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. have equipped officers with the devices, as a means of protecting both officers and civilians during police encounters.

Gonzales doesn’t see it that way, however.

“[It] gives a lopsided, one-sided story — which I think is a disservice to the whole community,” the sheriff said at a news conference last week.

Gonzales’ remarks have since drawn the ire of local advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union. Greg Williams, President of the New Mexico Foundation of Open Government, sounded off also, saying he doesn’t believe anyone is trying to misrepresent local officers.

“I don’t think anyone is trying to unfairly paint the police or to use this video against them,” Williams told local station KOAT 7. “I just think everyone wants to know what happened.”

I just four months, the sheriff’s office has seen nine deputy-involved shootings, the new station reported. Some of them were deadly, including the Nov. 10 shooting of 50-year-old Matthew Scudero. Authorities said Scudero refused to come out of his mobile home and fired shots at deputies.

Scudero’s sister, Darcy Scudero, initially hoped to see video evidence of the shooting. She later found out, however, that there was none because the BCSO deputies weren’t wearing body cameras.

“Why wouldn’t you have them?,” she asked in an interview with KOAT 7. “What is the reason to not have them?”

As of now, BCSO deputies do take audio recordings of their interactions with the public. However, the department hasn’t yet released recordings from this month’s shootings, the news station reported.

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