Last year the News-Press published a 13 part series byLance alleging that Santa Barbara police officer KasiBeutel had arrested him and a series of other driversfor DUI crimes they did not commit.The series included allegations that Beutel hadmanipulated breathalyzers to increase Blood AlcoholContent (BAC) levels, filed a sworn DMV report thatshe knew to be false, witnessed a series of forged blood test waivers and went into the field with DUIforms in which she had pre-checked up to half the boxes – evidence of a pre-determined mindset to frame innocent drivers.
Lance also reported in that series that The Santa Barbara andGuadalupe police departments are the only agencies in the county without patrol cameras.He followed up with a five-part series in October that included evidence Officer Beutelhad planted a bindle of heroin on a female DUI suspect who was being booked in SantaBarbara County Jail.
The City, to date, has taken no actionagainst Officer Beutel. One of the first testvideo cameras captured the controversialOct. 21, 2011, DUI arrest of TonyDeNunzio in Loreto Plaza who wasTasered 13 times by SBPD Officer AaronTudor. Witnesses accused Tudor of usingexcessive force and the video providedevidence in the case. But Santa BarbaraDistrict Attorney Joyce Dudley refused to bring charges against Tudor, who is headof the City’s Drinking Driver Team.
At the Feb. 28 City Council meeting, Police Chief Cam Sanchez told the council the Police Departmentwould select a camera vendor by April 2012. Thedepartment selected WatchGuard in October andshould have the cameras installed by the end of February, Mr. Diaz said.WatchGuard’s systemfeatures forward- and rear-facing cameras, wirelessvideo uploading, high-definition video and audiorecording, and easy operation, he said.“Some events will not happen in perfect range of thecamera,” but in those cases the HD microphone can record sounds as far as 1,400 feetaway, Mr. Diaz said.