In the wake of public outcry following the officer-involved shooting deaths of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland as well as the NYPD’s fatal confrontation with Eric Garner, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced plans last week to purchase 7,000 on-body cameras to be worn by LAPD patrol officers.
Officers with the LAPD’s Pacific Division, which patrols Westside neighborhoods, will be issued the cameras in mid-2016, said Vicki Curry, a spokeswoman for Garcetti.
“The plan is to have every officer on the street with a camera,” she said.
Gang units and other special details will be among the first to receive body cameras. Garcetti’s office has been working on a broader body camera initiative for a year and the LAPD has been conducting field test with the new technology, Curry said.
Los Angeles Police Commission President Steve Soboroff has raised more than $1.5 million to help fund the initial body camera rollout and Garcetti has pledged to allocate funding for the program in the city’s 2015-16 budget.
“Out on the street, things aren’t always clear cut. These cameras will help law enforcement and the public alike find the truth — and truth is essential to the trust between the LAPD and the community, which has been a key factor in lowering crime to record lows,” Garcetti said in a statement. “I want to make sure LAPD is on the cutting edge when it comes to crime suppression and constitutional policing.” — Gary Walker
“With what’s been happening around the country, I think it’s a good idea. Hopefully they will help minimize some situations from getting out of control. Los Angeles has a history of police abuse, and cameras can help an officer if a suspect is being uncooperative or help a citizen if an officer is abusing them. One thing that I’ve learned being on the Del Rey Neighborhood Council is the importance of being transparent, and these cameras can make things more transparent.” — Enrique Fernandez, Del Rey Neighborhood Council member
“We don’t object to body cameras and actually believe they will be useful in defending our officers against false allegations. As participants in the meet-and-confer, we look forward to having a policy in place that protects everyone’s rights and interests — the officers, the department, the city and the community. [Last week’s] announcement means we’re one step closer to deploying the cameras once we have a mutually agreeable policy.” — Los Angeles Police Protective League spokesman Eric Bonach
“I think it is a good idea, but I am not sure about the cost of the program. I suppose if the information from cameras exonerates officers and legal claims are not paid out, it should be a positive from
a financial perspective, too. I do, however, find interesting the incidents that have prompted this.” — Neighborhood Council of Westchester – Playa President Cyndi Hench
“I think [body cameras] are probably a good thing. As far as helping police, it could help reduce false claims of bias and racism where they don’t exist. Good officers might welcome them because could help get rid of the bad ones. And citizens will have an opportunity to show abuses where they do exist and it may help keep some officers in line. But there are no guarantees with cameras, as witnessed by recent events in Ferguson and the Garner case in New York.” — Santa Monica criminal defense attorney Daniel Brookman