In an announcement made this past Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti revealed that 700 officers with the Los Angeles Police Department will be equipped with body-mounted cameras beginning January 1st. The announcement was a significant move amid national movements to improve relations between law enforcement officers and the communities they are required to protect and serve.
During the announcement, Mayor Garcetti stated that initial implementation of the body cams will cost roughly $1.5 million. As LAPD begins to roll out more cameras and maintain existing cameras, they project annual costs to be around $9 million.
The cameras will work by recording audio and video. Although they will only activate once an officer presses the record button, the cameras have a built in feature that will record the preceding 30 seconds from when the record button is pressed. Footage and audio will then be saved immediately to a cloud.
While many have supported the use of on-body cameras by law enforcement officers, some have expressed concerns about the policies surrounding them. Officials stated that officers will be required to abide by strict guidelines for when they are and are not allowed to record, and that most interactions between LAPD officers and civilians will be recorded.
LAPD's adoption of the small, uniform-mounted cameras comes in the wake of highly publicized and controversial altercations between police and civilians, including fatal events in Ferguson, Staten Island, and Cleveland. In response to public outcry regarding the events, President Obama announced his support for police body cams in early December, and proposed a spending package to fund 50,000 body cams for officers across the country.
LAPD's use of these cameras is designed to improve trust, transparency, and relationships between law enforcement and communities. It can also be utilized to provide evidence in the event that an altercation occurs. Depending on how the program works for the LAPD, other U.S. law enforcement agencies will likely adopt the practice as well. LAPD plans to fully equip all officers with cameras by July 2016.