KRQE Poll: Majority of voters support BCSD getting body, dash cameras

Taser lapel camera
APD is requesting updates to lapel camera technology.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies don’t wear body cameras but should they?

Sheriff Manuel Gonzales has faced that question over and over again following deputy shootings. This time, KRQE News 13 asked the voters.

In a KRQE News 13 poll, Albuquerque voters overwhelmingly supported the idea.

So we took those results to Sheriff Gonzales and county commissioners to see what they think.

It’s standard to see video from dash cameras and body cameras from the state’s twenty largest police and sheriff’s departments, except one.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department uses belt tape audio, something civil rights Attorney Laura Schauer Ives believes just isn’t enough.

“To have video recordings protects the officers. It makes the prosecution of crimes easier and it also ensures accountability,” she said.

In a poll, KRQE News 13 asked voters if they favor or oppose giving the department body or dashboard cameras like Albuquerque Police and State Police already have.

An overwhelming 87 percent said they support the idea while 4 percent were against it.

We took the results to UNM Political Science Prof. Gabe Sanchez.

“I do a lot of polls. It’s almost impossible to get 87 percent of any population, including Albuquerque, to agree on dang near anything,” he said.

KRQE News 13 asked on Thursday to meet with the sheriff before the story aired on Friday night.

Public Information Officer Felicia Maggard said he was not available and sent the statement below.

“The KRQE poll only gives a result of a limited number of members of our community and may not accurately represent the citizens of Bernalillo County. Also, the KRQE poll question refers to the use of body worn cameras AND dash cameras. Some units in our department already utilize dash cameras. The sheriff is not opposed to the use of cameras, however, there are other priorities within the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office such as; radio communications, increasing the number of deputies, pay increase for deputies and vehicle replacement.”

In on-camera interviews in the past, Sheriff Gonzales has said that there are no trust issues with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and their deputies and so there is no reason for body cameras.

He’s also raised questions about the technology.

“It’s limited in scope, what a video camera can do so I wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent. It’s a two-dimensional technology that we can’t support.”

That seemed to contradict the more recent statement that “the sheriff is not opposed to the use of cameras,” so we asked for clarification.

Maggard then sent the statement below.

“The Sheriff has not changed his position on body worn cameras. As stated in previous statements to the media, much more research data would be needed to justify the use of body worn cameras. The Sheriff’s Office has utilized dash cameras for many years. The department is also piloting other dash cameras through grant funding. The KRQE poll referred to the use of body cameras AND dash cameras. He is not opposed to using cameras like dash cameras and other recording technology.”

The Sheriff’s Department said it has three dash cameras in its fleet that are part of a test program.

The department has about 300 deputies

Schauer Ives said resistance to body camera technology is concerning.

“I can’t see a reason why a department would be resistant to that except to hide what police officers are doing day to day,” she said.

However, County Commission Chair Debbie O’Malley said she supports the sheriff in his efforts to focus on hiring more deputies over cameras.

“That’s a technology. What really makes a difference is having a strong department, an effective department and a department that has good leadership. That’s going to make the difference,” she said.

Broken down by political party, the poll showed 88 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of Republicans favor body or dash cameras for deputies.

KRQE News 13 also reached out to the Bernalillo County Deputy Sheriff’s Association. The union declined to comment.

Polling Methodology & Results

For this poll, a sample of likely households was chosen from the population registered to vote in the city of Albuquerque for a “hybrid” automated (for landlines)/live (for cell phones) poll, where 74 percent of the phone numbers were landlines and 26 percent of the phone numbers were cell phones. There were 500 completed responses to 11 poll questions.

The survey was conducted August 26-27. The margin of error, with a 95 percent confidence interval, was 4.4 percent. The party registration of respondents was 52-34 percent Democratic/Republican (14 percent Independents). The geographic breakdown of the respondents was as follows: 52 percent from northeast Albuquerque, 19 percent from northwest Albuquerque, 22 percent from southeast Albuquerque, and 7 percent from southwest Albuquerque (The dividing lines for these four quadrants of Albuquerque are the (east/west) Rio Grande and (north/south) Interstate 40).

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