Crime & Justice

LAPD cops could soon test lapel body cameras

LAPD cops could soon test lapel body cameras.
LAPD cops could soon test lapel body cameras.
Courtesy of NBC4
LAPD cops could soon test lapel body cameras.
The view from a lapel camera.
Courtesy of NBC4
LAPD cops could soon test lapel body cameras.
Police equip themselves with riot gear and handcuffs in case a protest gets out of hand. Los Angeles police officers may soon get another tool for their tactical toolbox: City officials say they want the LAPD to test on-body or lapel cameras.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

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About two dozen Los Angeles police officers could soon begin a three-month test of lapel or body cameras.

Los Angeles City Council Member Mitch Englander submitted a motion asking the LAPD to work with an Arizona-based law enforcement tech company to develop a pilot plan for what types of lapel cameras will be tested.

“I can’t think of another, a better tool than putting cameras on officers so we can see their point of view,” Englander said.

Englander pointed to a Cambridge University study conducted this year with the Rialto Police Department whose officers wore the small recording devices. That study showed that complaints against officers fell by 88 percent and use-of-force incidents dropped by almost 60 percent.

“We looked at this from a risk management perspective as well,” Englander said in reference to the millions of dollars the city pays out each year over lawsuits involving the police department.

The LAPD inspector general produced an audit in June showing the city paid out approximately $110 million through settlement or verdict from July 2006 to June 2012.

The LAPD has in-car video cameras for about 300 patrol units. A departmental report stated that 92 percent of the complaints filed against personnel during 2011 and 2012 with in-car cameras resulted in an exonerated or unfounded finding. 

In-car cameras record activity that is going on inside the patrol car. But on-body cameras could record action outside of the police car.

“It’s a tactical tool officers could use when they’re doing building searches, looking around corners, attic searches,” Englander said. “Or when they have a supervisor show up on the scene so they can see and hear from the point of view of the officer.” 

The motion he submitted asks for the LAPD to report back to the city and police commission after a 90-day study period with recommendations on how to introduce lapel cameras to the entire department.

The newly appointed L.A. civilian police commissioner Steve Soboroff wasted no time last week showing support for adding more technology to the LAPD.

“We need the technology of in-car cameras complemented or supplemented by lapel or on-body cameras soon,” he said.

Soboroff said he hoped that 1,500 LAPD officers will start wearing body cameras within one year.