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LAPD to Implement On-Body Police Cameras

Recent events of police-involved altercations in Ferguson, Staten Island, and other parts of the country have placed a glaring spotlight on the ways law enforcement officials interact with communities. Earlier this month, President Obama responded to the national conversation by announcing his support for more police officers wearing cameras. In an announcement made this Tuesday - December 16, 2014 - Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti stated that LAPD officers will begin testing on-body cameras with the coming of the New Year.

According to Garcetti, 700 officers from the Los Angeles Police Department will be equipped with on-body cameras by January 1st. The contract to deploy the body cams will cover the Central, Mission, and Newton divisions and will cost $1.5 million initially. Garcetti also stated that projected costs to annually maintain body cams would be no more than $9 million.

Many civil rights leaders, community members, and social activists have praised LAPD's adoption of the small, lapel-mounted body cameras. Although the rollout is set to begin soon, police officials, officers, and LA citizens can still provide feedback on the program and how they believe the cameras should be used.

Transparency & Trust

The move to equip LAPD officers with body cams is a bold but warranted step toward improving relations between officers and the general public. As Garcetti stated during his announcement, "Trust is built on the truth, and trust is built on transparency."

Supporters of police body cams believe they will:

  • Build trust and improve relations between officers and communities
  • Hold police accountable for their actions
  • Provide evidence in controversial cases involving police-civilian altercations.

The cameras are capable of recording both audio and video, but will only begin recording when an officer manually presses a button. The camera will also capture the preceding 30 seconds before the recording button was pressed. Officers will have strict policies for when they should and should not record, but officials state that most types of interactions will be recorded. Recordings will be immediately saved to a cloud.

Although there are concerns about the policies surrounding police body cams, LAPD's adoption of the cameras falls in line with many law enforcement agencies across the country. When President Obama announced his support, he also proposed a spending package to help pay for 50,000 body cams for police across the country. The nation as a whole will likely be paying close attention to the pilot program in Los Angeles. As of now, LAPD plans to equip all officers with body cameras by July 2016.

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