LAPD officials report positive reviews of body cameras
Two months into a trial of on-body cameras for Los Angeles Police Department officers, the devices have earned mostly positive feedback
By Kelly Goff
LOS ANGELES — Two months into a trial of on-body cameras for Los Angeles Police Department officers, the devices have earned mostly positive feedback, officials said Tuesday.
Department officials overseeing the pilot program told the Los Angeles Police Commission, the department's civilian oversight board, that the roughly 30 officers who volunteered to test the cameras in the field have reported few problems. They are actually embracing the small devices, which have been touted as a way to reduce complaints against the department. The word of mouth has prompted additional officers to request to test the new gadget.
Sgt. Dan Gomez told the commission that officers have reported the cameras actually defused a potentially explosive situation. In one case, someone came into a police station and became angry at the desk officer. He called over a supervisor who was wearing a camera to assist, and the community member was informed a recording was being made.
"All of a sudden, the whole thing started to de-escalate. They were able to deal with whatever the situation was, and no additional enforcement action was needed," Gomez said.
He added there had been some technical issues with companion recording devices, which have already been resolved by swapping out those items with another option. And the recent rains provided an opportunity to test the cameras in extreme weather, with no performance issues reported.
Officers are currently sporting cameras from Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Taser International Inc., which donated 60 cameras for the pilot project. In about a month, at the conclusion of a 90-day trial, the same officers will receive similar alternative devices from Houston-based Coban Technologies Inc.
The goal, the department said, is to have the same officers provide feedback on both and select a device by sometime this summer.
Policies to govern when and where the cameras should be turned on and off, who will wear them and other regulations have yet to be decided.
Once a selection has been made, the goal is to buy roughly 600 of the cameras with the $1.2 million raised by Police Commission President Steve Soboroff. Those will be transferred at each shift change in order to maximize the number of officers utilizing the cameras.
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