LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Police commissioners Tuesday approved the use of body cameras by LAPD officers despite a growing debate over how such footage would be stored and used.
The Los Angeles Police Commission voted 3-1 to approve policies for the use of body cameras by the LAPD, which is expected to assign 860 Taser Axon body cameras to officers in the Central, Mission and Newton police divisions.
Commissioner Robert Saltzman cast the lone dissenting vote after an often-contentious debate that lasted nearly two hours, saying he was "frustrated" that commissioners and the public were not able to view and comment on the policies before the LAPD reached an agreement with the police officers' union.
In a rebuttal, Commission President Steve Soboroff argued that the public has had many opportunities to give input and that the commission will have the opportunity to re-assess the policies once the officers have actually put the body cameras to use.
The cameras, donated to the city through Los Angeles Police Commission fundraising efforts, are intended to make officers more accountable for their actions interacting with the public while on duty.
LAPD officers have been testing the devices for about a year.
But civil liberties activists and other critics have voice concerns that rules fail to address when video footage should be released to the public.
Officers involved in use-of-force incidents, such as police shootings, will not be allowed to view footage from the body camera unless the force investigator gives permission.
The policies, however, also require officers to view the video before being interviewed by investigators.
Peter Bibring, director of police practices for the ACLU of California, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO he wants to know why the body camera policies were being pushed through at what he described as a rapid pace.
"That's not really time for the public to look at them and respond to the policies, it's not time to get an independent evaluation of these policies, and it's barely time for the Commission to reason carefully," said Bibring.
Oakland police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have both adopted camera policies that require officers to give statements before being allowed to view video footage, Bibring added.
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