LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Starting Monday, Aug. 31, body cameras will be handed out to Los Angeles police officers at the Mission Station — the first of 860 cameras that will be distributed to officers in three divisions.
Officers at the Mission Division will be the first to get training on the cameras, followed by officers at the Newton Division on Sept. 15 and the Central traffic and specialized divisions on Sept. 28, LAPD Chief Information Officer Maggie Goodrich told the Los Angeles Police Commission.
Goodrich said the department spent the past few months installing the network and infrastructure for the body cameras.
Sgt. Karen Spencer added that Mission Division police would continue training with the cameras through the weekend.
LAPD officials chose a Taser body camera that is designed to be worn on the chest.
The cameras were donated to the department through the Los Angeles Police Foundation.
Mayor Eric Garcetti called for a $10 million plan to outfit the entire police department with body cameras. The City Council earlier approved a budget that allocates half of the funding needed to purchase 7,000 additional cameras. Officials are applying for federal grants to pay for the other half of the camera purchase costs.
The proposed rules, reviewed by the Los Angeles Police Commission, address questions of when the video cameras must be turned on, how long the recordings should last, how the devices are to be maintained and inspected, how the footage should be stored and if officers are allowed to immediately view the recordings.
Under the proposed policies, officers involved in use-of-force incidents, such as police shootings, would not be allowed to view footage from the body camera unless the force investigator gives permission, but officers must view the video before being interviewed by investigators.
This provision drew criticism from Peter Bibring, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, who said that allowing officers who are involved in police shootings or other force incidents to review the recordings prior to making their initial statements is “problematic.”
“The purposes of body-worn cameras is to provide greater accountability, but allowing officers to view video before making a statement seriously undercuts this and turns what should be a tool for accountability into a tool that could help officers cover-up misconduct,” Bibring told City News Service.
He said officers’ statements about the incident could be “tainted” the same way showing witnesses video footage could taint their testimony. He also said officer’s who are dishonest could use the recordings to their advantage by citing alleged activities that occur outside the frame of the camera.
Oakland police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have both adopted camera policies that require officers to give statements before being allowed to view video footage, Bibring said.