The Los Angeles Police Department will become the first major American law enforcement agency to outfit its entire 7,000-member force with body cameras, the Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday. LA will buy 2,000 cameras, starting with 800 in January.
At a news conference to outline his plans to implement funding for the equipment in the 2015-2016 budget, Garcetti said the cameras “are not a panacea, but they are a critical part of the formula. They’re a great step forward.”
The purchase of the initial 800 Taser body cameras will be funded by more than $1.5 million in private donations, Gizmodo reported. Policies on proper use of the cameras will be considered in early 2015, while the device rollout will happen within the next six months, the mayor’s office said. The remainder of the equipment will be fully deployed by June 2016 and paid for out of the city’s budget.
Los Angeles is not currently planning to make use of the money-matching program President Barack Obama announced at the beginning of December ‒ but has not yet been authorized by Congress.
“These cameras will be a critical step forward that will provide both the officers and Angelenos with recording evidence of their interactions, helping to address the uncertainty and questions that plague so many investigations,” Garcetti said. “On the street things aren’t always clear cut. This isn’t TV. It’s not easily scripted. It’s not always easy to tie up the loose ends. So the more facts and evidence we have, the more likely it is that we can get to the truth no matter what happens on the street.”
The LAPD has been under fire in recent months, including for the officer-involved shooting death of Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old black man described by his family as having “mental problems,” just two days after Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown. According to the victim’s family, Ford was complying with officers at the time of the shooting, and was killed while face down in front of the police.
“The trust between a community and its police department can be eroded in a single moment,” Garcetti said. “Trust is built on transparency.”