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LAPD Body Camera Use Approved

Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners votes 3-1 to approve use of body cameras by LAPD officers.

With three votes in favor and one vote against, the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners voted Tuesday to approve a policy to equip police officers with body cameras.

“I think this is a good policy,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. “We’ll review it after the cameras are rolled out. If it needs to be adjusted, we’ll make adjustments.”

The policy regulates several issues that were highly contested at Tuesday's meeting, including what the purpose of the cameras is. Other issues concerning whether video should be released to the public and when officers should turn on their cameras also sparked debate among the commissioners, ultimately leading Commissioner Robert Saltzman to vote no on the proposed regulations. 

Arif Alikhan, the special assistant to constitutional policing, addressed the board about how the cameras will be regulated. 

“This is not a surveillance program,” said Alikhan. “This is not intended to simply collect information. It’s intended for investigative and enforcement activities with members of the public, especially in situations where there’s the potential for a conflict.”

Peter Bibring and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California support the implementation of body-worn cameras, but only if they are regulated in a proper way. He said on Tuesday that issues like allowing officers to view body camera video before giving testimony are too big to ignore. 

“The policy that was proposed and approved by the police commission today has a number of serious flaws and the department shouldn’t be deploying body warn video under this policy,” said Bibring. “At best, that poses the threat of tainting an officer's memory with the video that he or she has watched, and certainly undermining public confidence in investigations.”

Although there are still many questions that critics want to see answered, Tuesday's vote clears the path for the implementation of body worn cameras. LAPD hopes to begin equipping their officers with the new technology as early as this summer. 

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