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The Hollister City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 8 approved the use of grant money to purchase an in-car video system for the police patrol fleet. 

“Despite recent nationwide events that highlight the effectiveness of in-car video recording systems, the police department has always maintained they are a very valuable tool,” Captain Carlos Reynoso said in a press release. “The use of a video system can aid in evidence capture of a crime in progress or an admission of guilt. Having clear, objective evidence captured on video can result in lower overtime cost of an officer having to testify in court.” He added that the system can assist other departments such as the San Benito Superior Court and the District Attorney’s Office by reducing the number of cases going to jury or court trial. 

In a report to the city council, Chief David Westrick said a test unit the department has been using in one of its vehicles has documented a prisoner concealing drugs while in the back seat of the car and has caputured several videos depicting the traffic violations of a suspect vehicle along with field sobriety tests.

Over the last several months, the Hollister Police Department has been researching in-car video systems. One of the highlights of the Watch Guard 4RE system is the ease of use and the wireless connectivity of the in-car system with the department server, police said. “This results in no need for an officer or any other personnel to access the car system to retrieve the video,” the report said. ” The recordings are automatically uploaded to the department server wirelessly once the vehicle returns to the police department. 

The Hollister Police Department leveraged three grant sources to pay for the nearly $100,000 system. A grant from the Board of State and Community Corrections was combined with a U.S. Department of Justice, Justice Assistance Grant and a local Community and Corrections Partnership grant to purchase the system for the patrol fleet. No general fund money was used to purchase or install the system. 

Westrick said the grant money will fund the purchase and installation of systems in “almost all of the vehicles assigned to patrol” and that it can later be transferred to new vehicles when the older patrol cars are retired.