LAPD to Equip Officers With Body-Worn Cameras

Los Angeles will become the largest city in the nation to equip all of its patrol officers with body cameras.

The Los Angeles Police Commission has approved equipping all of its patrol officers with body cameras.

The decision will now make Los Angeles the largest city in the United States to equip all its patrol officers with the devices, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

RELATED: COPS Releases Guidance on Deploying Body-Worn Cameras

Not everyone supports the decision, which allows officers to review video taken by the cameras before they write up their incident reports.

Some members of the police commission itself were concerned over who should get to see the videos.

Others who oppose the body cameras noted that there were no protections against police gaming the system by altering reports to fit footage or simply not releasing the video.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) notes that body cameras can be great tools if there are appropriate policies in place; however, the group believes the LAPD is using the cameras as tools for propaganda.

“When [body cameras] have the wrong policies, as it appears may be the case in Los Angeles, they can be viewed as tools for propaganda – as what the police want people to know, creating more distrust,” Chad Marlow, advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU told The Christian Science Monitor.

However, supporters of the body cameras say that police departments can start out with a policy similar to the LAPD’s, and later examine the track record and tweak the policy if need be.

Still, some police departments have reported positive results after implementing body cameras.

For example, in 2011, Rialto, Calif., had 24 complaints against officers. After the department launched its body camera program a year later, the number of complaints dropped to three.

The San Diego Police Department recently revealed that it has experienced positive results since testing body cameras on its officers. Complaints on the use of body cameras have fallen 40.5%, while the and use of “personal body” force by officers has been reduced by 46.5% and use of pepper spray by 30.5%.

Now, other cities such as Ferguson, Mo., and North Charleston, S.C. – where officers fatally shot unarmed black men – have implemented body cameras for officer use. The New York Police Department also launched a 60-camera pilot program in one high-crime precinct last September.

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