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LASD Deputies Start Using Body-Worn Cameras In Field

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department will begin wearing body cameras in the field Thursday night, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.

According to Villanueva, deputies in the department's Century, Lancaster, Lakewood, Industry and West Hollywood stations would be the first to be trained and equipped with the cameras followed by the deputies at the Compton and East Los Angeles stations.

All remaining deputies would be trained and equipped within the next 18 months.

"My first week in office, we started working towards the implementation of body-worn cameras for (the sheriff's department)," Villanueva tweeted Thursday. "Today, that became a reality when we kicked off our very first (body-worn camera) equipment issue and training class."

The department received its first shipment of cameras Sept. 2, one day after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to transfer $25.5 million to the sheriff's department to fund the body-worn camera program.

"This will help strengthen our bonds of trust and bring increased transparency," the sheriff's department said on Twitter last month.

The board had already set aside $35 million for the program, but had not yet released the funds to the sheriff's department. The motion transferred enough money to cover the program's first year of operations.

"Body-worn cameras are an important tool for transparency and I have been advocating to get them to our sheriff's deputies since Sheriff Jim McDonnell was in office," Hahn said at the time. "The videos these cameras capture will give us a clearer understanding of what actually happens in the interactions between our deputies and members of the public."

She said the funds transfer would allow the department to move forward without additional "red tape," but a number of supervisors noted that the presence of cameras did not necessarily prevent violence.

"These body-worn cameras, they don't solve everything, but they put a lot of things in perspective," Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

Hahn said that the roll-out of the body-worn camera program needed to be accompanied by "real accountability, real reform and real reflection."

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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