Senate Bill 424, which becomes law January 1, 2016, gives college and university police departments in California the authority to use "pretext phone calls" and body-worn cameras during investigations into crimes such as sexual assault, robbery, burglary, arson, theft and murder.
The pretext phone calls allows campus police to record conversations between a victim, who consents to the recording, and a suspect.
Sacramento State Police Chief Mark Iwasa says the pretext phone calls are mostly limited to gathering evidence during investigations of sexual assault crimes.
"So for example if you were a victim and you had a conversation with the suspect and the suspect made certain admissions, you could introduce that as evidence, that's essentially what a pretext phone call is," says Iwasa.
He says the power to use pretext phone calls gives campus police another tool to reduce sexual assaults.
Statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center show that one in 5 women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college and more than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.
Campus Police Can Wear Body-Cameras
Iwasa says the body-cameras would be used to document interactions between campus officers and the public, and to collect evidence during criminal investigations.
"Where you probably see it more is inside one of the dorm rooms where you're having a conversation that someone would otherwise consider to be confidential," says Iwasa. "That would be where you're really going to see them happen."
Campus police in California may be wearing body-cameras before the end of next year.
Iwasa says the 23-campus California State University system is considering the use of body-cameras.
The University of California system says it plans to equip police at its 10 campuses with body-cameras in late-2016.
"We are working to finalize a systemwide policy on the use of body cameras," says Kate Moser, with the University of California Office of the President. "We are consulting model policies and best practices to inform our policy. The campus police chiefs estimate that the campuses will fully implement body-worn cameras in the latter half of 2016."
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