Del Mar park ranger to resume use of body camera under new guidelines


With new guidelines in place, Del Mar’s park ranger will resume wearing a body camera this week, City Manager Scott Huth said during the Dec. 15 council meeting.

Although the ranger has used a camera since 2012, the city temporarily discontinued its program in September. The suspension of the program followed the release of a video that captured a reserve sheriff’s deputy’s angry reaction when he was pulled over by the ranger for using a cellphone while driving.

Deputy Scott Masters was fired after the March encounter, while Park Ranger Adam Chase was praised for his professionalism.

Because the city manager and city attorney had not vetted the previous procedures for the use of the camera, the city has since reviewed and drafted new procedures. The policies should be final within the week, Huth said, and will be posted on the city’s website soon after.

“All along I’ve been supportive of the use of the camera,” said Huth, noting that council members and staff support the program as well. “I think it’s a very important tool for law enforcement, as well as a tool for the public to see what we’re doing in our performance of our law enforcement duties in the community.”

Three members of the public agreed.

“I’m happy to hear that this is finally emerging; I’m just mind-boggled that it’s taken so long,” said resident Bill Michalsky.

“It has taken far too long to get this body camera back on,” said resident Robin Crabtree. “It protects us as citizens. It protects our law enforcement.”

Although resident Jim Benedict said he was glad the ranger would get the camera back, he said he would prefer that the ranger not be required to disclose the camera is in use.

“You’re not going to get the bad guys to be bad guys,” he said. “They’re going to hide.”