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
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.