CHP installs cameras for visual, audio support in traffic cases

As part of their duty to help protect drivers on the roads of the county, California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers have implemented Mobile Video/Audio Recording Systems (MVARS) in 2,000 squad cars.

Sgt. Scott Payson, who oversees the Fallbrook and Pauma Valley patrols, said despite the recording systems, he requires all patrol officers to treat residents with the utmost courtesy.

“I ask them to treat each stop with the care that they would want their own family members treated with,” said Payson.

The MVARS have cameras that provide visual feeds from inside and outside the squad car once the sirens have been initiated, said Payson. At the end of each patrol, the CHP officer removes the DVD and logs it in to evidence.

The officers continue to wear their usual wireless microphones.

While some of the officers expressed concern about having their patrol stops monitored, the value of the recordings was soon made apparent.

“It’s worth noting that an extensive in-car camera study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police determined that cameras were found to present credible evidence, improve officer safety, as well as exonerate officers during citizen complaint investigations 93 percent of the time,” said Jaime Coffee, an information officer for the CHP.

There have been several occasions upon which an officer was falsely accused of misconduct during a stop, said Payson.

“However, when the individuals making the accusations hear that there is a video and audio recording of the stop, a large majority of them drop their accusation,” said Payson. “The officers saw that the MVARS could be used to help protect them with clear evidence from the stop in question. While we are not saying that each of our officers is perfect, this helps us strive toward perfection.”

The average life for each MVARS is about five years, said Coffee. While the entire CHP fleet could not be outfitted, the majority of primary enforcement vehicles from each CHP office have had the units installed, she said. Currently, motorcycle officers do not have MVARS.

The opportunities provided to the CHP officers by the MVARS do not merely include the evidence for criminal cases; the devices can also help document activities that risk the lives of the officers.

“On Oct. 1, an officer was shot, hit, and run over, but no one was around when the incident occurred,” said Payson. “The MVARS evidence was a tremendous help in our investigation.”

According to CHP officer Eric Newbury, the MVARS help officers be accountable for their actions.

“Our actions are clearly detailed on both video and audio footage now for accountability purposes,” said Newbury.

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22 Responses to "CHP installs cameras for visual, audio support in traffic cases"

  1. Handler   March 4, 2011 at 9:17 am

    I thought the state was broke. The CHP is constantly adding "toys" to their vehicles. If they can’t trust their officers then they have the wrong people. Give the tax payers a break, stop spending…… get the message????

  2. Ray (the real one)   March 4, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Handler: It’s not about trust, it’s about bucks. The state is broke, these units cost about $2.500.00 for each unit. Take into account ticket revenues are down, more people are contesting their citation and winning by the way, the state wants to even the odds. I have been using a digital recorder in my vehicle for years now, helped me out many times in traffic related offenses, now CHP wants to use this audio-video in court.

    Where is the ACLU?

  3. Reality Check   March 4, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Unlike other posters I do not believe these cameras are ‘toys’. The issue is not about trusting their officers, it is about providing evidence to protect them in the event they are falsely accused of wrongful conduct or a crime is committed.

    The people who like to talk crap about the CHP, are also the first people to run to a phone and DEMAND the officers help/save/rescue them when they are in trouble.

    These men and women that work for the CHP put their lives on the line every single day to protect and serve. I have the utmost respect for them and am greatful for the job that they do.

  4. Joe   March 4, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Reality [email protected] you could not be more wrong seems like your the type that goes and whines to them

  5. Ray (the real one)   March 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    NEW Procedures when stopped by CHP:

    Officer: Do you know why I pulled you over?
    Victim: No officer.
    Officer: Do you know how fast you were going?
    Victim: The legally posted speed limit for this stretch of roadway.
    Officer: I clocked you at XX mph, what is the posted limit?
    Victim: Officer if it’s your intention to write me a citation, please do it now so we both can be on our way.

    Say nothing. Don’t build his or her case by talking. Remember in California, the minute his lights are activated, youe technically under arrest, you sign the ticket, your "OR" released. Be nice but firm. Miranda & Escobedo don’t apply in infraction cases but it’s still your right to keep your mouth shut. Remember traffic citations has little to do with safety, it’s dollars and that is why these "rolling cash registers" are now all over our roadways.

    You actually can beat a traffic ticket, even if the officer has video and audio. ALSO… Carry a small tape recorder, most officers rarely use their recording devices for traffic infractions, evenh the playing field.

  6. copper tone   March 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm your first name, Pan ? You probably don’t even pay taxes with that type of ignorant mentality. Do you, Pan Handler even know what CHP stands for ? You get the message and Get a Clue. We need more CHP officers and the latest electronics to deal with with the everyday those like you.

  7. ERIN   March 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    I hope the devices are equipped with a SAP (secondary audio program) option. To use with our international travellers.

  8. Ray (the real one)   March 5, 2011 at 10:25 am

    ERIN: Now that’s funny and I didn’t think of it first. As for my previous comments. I am in favor of having our officers protected against false allegations but to record every contact and to use it as evidence in the smallest of infractions in my opinion violates the self incrimination clause. Ever since the Rodney King incident, most if not all police agencies nationwide have been using "dash cams" for decades but this device goes even further, it allows the officer to carry a camera right into the contact. Yes I do agree that officers get wrongfully accused but that percentage is very small in comparison to the number of contacts officers nationwide make each year, I don’t see it as a problem. These devices are for only one purposwe, to generate revenue, nothing more.

  9. Pessimistic   March 5, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I agree with Reality Check as to the primary reason the cameras are being installed, as well as to document shootings and/or uses of force – again to protect the officers. Unfortunately some officers also be swatted for conduct unbecoming when they tell someone, who probably deserves to be told, they are a POS or they really F’ed up. But, that’s what we get with the new breed of hyper-sensitive ‘tax payers’ out there – whiners.

    Secondary is probably to document the stops for the purposes of court proceedings, especially for their DUIs. My biggest complaint, a spin off of Ray’s comments, is the amount fines have escalated to these days. After the State and County adds their "fees" to the actual citation amount those tickets can cost a person $400-$600 for simple minor speeding, California roll or seat belt violation. Fines are justified, as an attempt to be a deterrent – but come on! Those are big penalties during these tough economic times. Then again, I have issues with seat belt, riding in the bed of a pickup truck and helmet laws for adults – but that’s a gripe, along with the "real" reasons those laws were enacted for another thread and time.

    Thank you for your service coppers and stay safe!

  10. All in favor   April 22, 2011 at 8:07 am

    I’m all in favor of the cameras if the officers can’t turn them off and the images are uploaded to a remote server. Then maybe the cameras will discourage officers from lying, planting evidence, and getting blow-jobs from teen-aged girls too scared to tell their parents they got a ticket.

  11. Jrc   June 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    It could be usefull in criminal cases,I’m a California medical card holder who had his rights violated when pulled over in laguna niguel,I only had two ounces,no scale or baggies but was pulled out my car to sit on the side of the road while a very aggressive blonde female officer showed up and went directly for my cell phone,and took it upon herself to go through my incoming and outgoing texts and to charge me with intent to sell,I’m a very hardworking man who works for walmart for 8years,I’m no drug dealer and my case now rests on audio,if they can’t find me giving permission to go through my cell then I have the bargining chip,funny how she wrote that I gave permission to go through it,u officers have been getting fat off are tax payer money for to long,our state is in debt and our jails are over crowded,yet they still don’t care,hard working blue coller people have been getting taxed since the begining of time,do some history before you leave me smart remarks

  12. Concerned   December 10, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Got pulled over a month ago. Complained in regards to how I was treated. Wanted the audio and video for so I can prove my case. CHP plans on slapping a protective order against it.

  13. Edward   February 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Stories like this are for the all hype. I got pulled over for the first time in over 28 years. It was the worst experiences I’ve ever had. All the CHP officer kept doing is asking me “is there something you need to tell me” he asked me this question 4 plus times and after I received the speeding ticket. I asked him why did you keep asking me that question. He siad “I’ve been doing this for 29 years and I can tell when someone wants to tell me something. I told him his customer service skills sucked and that he didn’t need to treat me like a criminal. I wasn’t hiding anything nor did I feel it was necessary to tell him anything. He was a pretty weird cop and had a little mans complex from what I could see and I think may have some mental issues or perhaps he’s suffering from burn-out or maybe drugs or alcohol abuse in my opinion. In any case he wasn’t treating me like he would want his family treated like the article indicates, he was just an …wipe. I have always taught respect for the law to my boys but after this experience I am going to have to consider that. I’m coming up on 53 and I’m obviously not a threat to anyone at face value. It was one of the worst displays of community policing from an officer I’ve ever seen and I have many friends in the business. I would not tollerate the public being treated with disrespect in my office; we are public servants. The CHP is a family in and of itself and they can do no wrong in their own eyes. I know this first hand as I have several in my family. The egos that come with this job are without question the poster child of what not to do. Public service is an honor and should be treated as such. There are many good officers but it only takes one idiot to give the rest a bad name. The station in Aubrun that this guy works for has had officers involved in criminal activity in recent months; perhaps they should evaluate their officers, just saying because if one or two are involved there may be others. A law -abiding citizen should not be treated like a criminal for a speeding ticket it wasn’t that big of a deal but he made it one, he was simply a d….

  14. Edward Teyssier   April 13, 2012 at 9:45 am

    According to the article:
    "According to CHP officer Eric Newbury, the MVARS help officers be accountable for their actions.

    "Our actions are clearly detailed on both video and audio footage now for accountability purposes," said Newbury. "

    But the article says NOTHING about a citizen being able to use the recording to hold an officer accountable.

    Ok, so what about a citizen demanding a copy of the recording of his/her citation? Are those freely available? There needs to be a follow-up article explaining how, or if, citizens can get copies of these recordings (made at state expense, mind you).

    If the officer can use the video to exonerate himself, why shouldn’t citizens be allowed to review those recordings/admit those recordings into evidence to defend a unfair citation?

  15. Concerned   April 21, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Wow, after the protective order the Judge allowed me access to see if it can help my case. I might note that prior to court I filed a complaint letter with the CHP and the response was that the officers acted appropriately and that they could not substantiate my claims of misconduct. After reviewing the video I can see why. Sucks because I can

  16. Lissa   April 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Not really a comment on everyone else’s although, they were all very informative to me. How do you find out if the CHP car that pulled you over did or did not have a MVARS? Other than asking your Public Defender to obtain the information to prove your case? (who works for the District Attorney and wants you to take a plea ASAP. therefor, is probably not being told the truth, and/or not giving me the correct information.)

  17. Heather   May 18, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Your yellow paper citation should have a box toward the lower middle right where the officer has to check whether he used radar/lidar unit or MVARS.

  18. Sal   June 7, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Does the MVARS turn itself off or can the Officer turn it off. Also if the patrol vehicle is in motion towards the suspected speeder is MVARS detecting the rate of speed as well as a RADAR device or is it part of the MVARS system? Thank You.

  19. Kay   August 9, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Can a motorcycle police officer use MVARS to verify speeding?

  20. Kay   August 9, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    I need to add that I am referring to a motorcycle office riding, not
    sitting to the side of the road.

  21. Kay   August 9, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Are CHP motorcycles equipped with MVARS equipment??

  22. Mike   July 24, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    I am 110% in favor of MVARS…This device saved my a… A low life scum bag m……. of a CHP loser filed a false report. We got the MVARS….and tada…he got busted lying. Case closed…now he gets to take it up the corn hole. Justice!!!!


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