Body cameras and cell phones will soon be standard equipment for the 7,000 or so police officers in Los Angeles, thanks to unanimous funding approval by the L.A. City Council on June 22. All officers are expected to be equipped by the end of 2017.
There are conflicting reports—including an article appearing on the LAPD’s website—about the amount of money to be allocated over the next 5 years, but the cost is estimated between $59 million and $69 million.
Funds will cover cameras, uploading equipment and storage, and extra LAPD staff to review and manage the footage. About 4,400 stun guns will also be ordered.
Mayor Eric Garcetti had originally promised to outfit the department by the end of this year, but the steep price tag was met with council disapproval.
“Today’s action by the City Council is an investment in my vision of a Los Angeles Police Department that leads in transparency and accountability — values that protect officers and everyday Angelenos, and that are fundamental to policing in the 21st century," Garcetti said in a statement. "This is a historic moment for the LAPD, and I am proud of the leadership shown by everyone who played a part in getting us to this day.”
Police and city officials have argued that the video footage should be treated like any other police evidence. While the cameras can promote transparency and accountability, they say, the equipment does not tell the whole story.
Ever rising incidents of excessive force and shootings by police involving black citizens have created increased demand for body cameras in addition to dash cams on police vehicles. Meanwhile, the latest high-profile shooting caught on camera, occurred on July 5 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Alton Sterling, 37, was wrestled to the ground by police officers, before being shot dead at close range. Though the camera does not show it, there was a report that the suspect had a gun. Officers say their body cameras fell off. It will be interesting to see the role that body cameras play in criminal investigations for both police and civilians in the future.