Corte Madera code enforcement officials to wear cameras

Corte Madera’s code enforcement officers plan to wear body cameras to keep track of potential conflicts.

City council unanimously approved the policy at its Tuesday meeting. The policy went into effect that night.

“We live in a world of accountability and transparency, and the city is doing what it can to preserve the integrity of the meetings,” Michael Morarity, municipal code enforcement officer, told council.

Code enforcement officers will use the same type of cameras worn by Central Marin Police Authority officers, according to a report from Morarity staff, General Manager Todd Cusimano and Amy Ackerman, l lawyer of the city.

Morarity said the move stems from a new ordinance in May that allowed more enforcement issues to fall on code officials.

Cusimano said it was quite unusual to equip municipal code enforcement officers with cameras in Marin. Given the ministry’s expanded role, city staff felt that the move would be the best practice in terms of oversight and transparency.

Cusimano expressed concern about conflicts related to off-leash dogs in public spaces.

“You are seeing residents versus residents right now,” he said.

Cusimano called the camera policy “rather pioneering”. Because code enforcement officers are not police officers, he said, they must seek permission to record public interactions.

The city will also explore ways to demonstrate during registration, such as wearing a badge or vest to indicate that a registration is in progress, Morarity said.

For enforcement activities on private property, city policy distinguishes between areas visible to the public – such as front yards and walkways – and areas not visible to the general public.

In areas visible to the public, code enforcement officers will activate the cameras and notify those they record that the camera is on.

“The code enforcement officer is not required to request permission to record the interaction,” the policy said.

But in areas not visible to the public, homeowners can tell code enforcement officials to turn off the camera or leave the property altogether.

The staff report noted that records of activity between the public and those responsible for enforcing the code will be archived on a third-party cloud-based server.

Ackerman said the city’s camera policies are aligned with the procedures of the Central Marin Police Authority.

The code enforcement division will have two Axon Body 3 cameras. The cameras and associated equipment will cost $ 2,359.82 in the first year.

The license agreements for the second, third and fourth years will be billed annually at $ 618.

A San Rafael police officer wears an Axon body camera in San Rafael on Monday, February 10, 2020. The city of Corte Madera is considering equipping code enforcement officers with body cameras from the same company. (Alan Dep / Marin Independent Journal)

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