Investigations into two high-profile cases involving Cedar Rapids police officers will be conducted without the luxury of video and audio evidence that normally would have been available.
Twenty-one patrol cars, about one-third of the department’s fleet, are not equipped with working dashboard cameras as the department works through an upgrade it was forced to make. Officials said it will likely be two or three years before all the police cars have cameras again.
A patrol car without a camera was first on the scene Tuesday morning when Desirae A. Daniel, 27, of Cedar Rapids, was shot and killed by police after they say she pulled a gun after a police chase. As a result, police said there is no video footage of the shooting.
The same was true of the police car that transported Paul R. Saldivar, 33, of Cedar Rapids, to jail on the evening of May 10. Saldivar mysteriously stopped breathing in the patrol car and died a week later at a hospital. Police have said Saldivar was intoxicated and hit his head on an armrest, but conclusive findings about how he died have not been released.
Cedar Rapids police Sgt. Cristy Hamblin said there are no plans to put cameras in the 21 police cars that are without cameras. Instead, the cars will be taken out of service when they reach 135,000 miles and replaced with brand new patrol cars, which will have cameras pre-installed. Officials said the alternative is to put a new camera system, which costs about $5,200, into a patrol car that is nearing the end of its life-cycle.
Police Chief Wayne Jerman said he agrees with the strategy that was decided before he arrived in Cedar Rapids, even if it means the absence of video evidence in some cases.
Do you agree? Should Cedar Rapids officials do what it takes to make sure every patrol car has video cameras on board?