Commission approves policy for Los Angeles police body cameras

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Los Angeles Police to Receive 7,000 Body Cameras



(Reuters) - The Los Angeles Police Commission approved a policy on Tuesday clearing the way for the widespread use of body cameras by patrol officers in the second-largest U.S. city, as tensions rise in the United States over police use-of-force incidents.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said in December the city would equip 7,000 Los Angeles Police Department officers with the devices over the next two years to capture their day-to-day interactions with civilians.

The commission's 3-1 vote on rules governing the use of the devices brings Los Angeles closer to becoming the largest U.S. city to put body cameras into widespread use. New York, Chicago and Washington are conducting pilot programs to test the cameras and evaluate their worth.

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Commission approves policy for Los Angeles police body cameras
Officer Gregory Twigg displays a Panasonic Arbitrator Camera body camera during a news conference Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, in Baltimore. More than 150 Baltimore police officers will be outfitted with body cameras as part of a pilot program that will eventually expand to the entire force. The program launched on Monday. (AP Photo/Juliet Linderman)
Whitestown Police Department officer Reggie Thomas radios dispatch while making a traffic stop, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 in Whitestown, Ind. Officers with the department wear body cameras attached to their uniforms. An urban versus rural divide emerged during an Indiana legislative committee discussion of possible restrictions on the use of body cameras by police agencies. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 04: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, left, with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, right, who is wearing a body camera, shows the new LAPD body camera and cell phone with special ap's that allow the officer to see what the camera is recording, during a press conference at LAPD Mission Division Friday September 4, 2015 as they talked about the rollout of the agency's officer body cameras. The rollout of the body cameras began last Monday at LAPD's Mission Division in the north San Fernando Valley when officers received final instructions on using the cameras during roll call training sessions. About 1,000 video were recorded during the first two days of operation, according to Mayor Garcetti. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
ADVANCE FOR MOVEMENT SATURDAY MARCH 15 - This Jan. 15, 2014 file photo shows a Los Angeles Police officer wearing an on-body cameras during a demonstration for media in Los Angeles. Thousands of police agencies have equipped officers with cameras to wear with their uniforms, but they?ve frequently lagged in setting policies on how they?re used, potentially putting privacy at risk and increasing their liability. As officers in one of every six departments across the nation now patrols with tiny lenses on their chests, lapels or sunglasses, administrators and civil liberties experts are trying to envision and address troublesome scenarios that could unfold in front of a live camera. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Oxnard Police Chief Jeri Williams, left, California Attorney Gen. Kamala Harris, center, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announce the results of a 90-day review of the state Department of Justice's special-agent training programs on "implicit bias and use of force" during a news conference in downtown Los Angeles Friday, April 17, 2015. Harris also said that under a pilot program Department of Justice special agents would be outfitted with on-body cameras similar to those worn by officers of some local forces in California. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2015 file photo, Steve Tuttle, vice president of communications for Taser International, demonstrates one of the company's body cameras for The Associated Press during a company-sponsored conference hosted by Taser at the California Highway Patrol Headquarters in Sacramento, Calif. Officials in Salt Lake City and Fort Worth, Texas, said they are reviewing their ethics policies after The Associated Press reported on how their police chiefs were closely linked to the company that won contracts to supply officers with body cameras. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT - MARCH 2: West Valley City patrol officer Gatrell performs a traffic stop on the first day of use of his newly-issued body camera attached to the side of a pair of glasses on March 2, 2015 in West Valley City, Utah. West Valley City Police Department has issued 190 Taser Axon Flex body cameras for all it's sworn officers to wear starting today. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2014 file photo, Sgt. Chris Wicklund of the Burnsville (Minn) Police Department wears a body camera beneath his microphone. Despite body camera's spreading use and law enforcement concerns about sensitive footage becoming public, former police officer and Republican Rep. Tony Cornish says he plans to hold off on passing restrictions on the recording devices this year, saying he hopes to appoint a panel of experts to study the issue in the meantime. (AP Photo/Jim Mone,File)
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT - MARCH 2: West Valley City patrol officer Gatrell starts a body camera recording by pressing a button on his chest before he takes a theft report from a construction worker with his newly-issued body camera attached to the side of a pair of glasses on March 2, 2015 in West Valley City, Utah. West Valley City Police Department has issued 190 Taser Axon Flex body cameras for all it's sworn officers to wear starting today. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 30: A police officer wears a body camera at a rally for Michael Brown August 30, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT - MARCH 2: West Valley City patrol officer Gatrell performs a traffic stop on the first day of use of his newly-issued body camera attached to the side of a pair of glasses on March 2, 2015 in West Valley City, Utah. West Valley City Police Department has issued 190 Taser Axon Flex body cameras for all it's sworn officers to wear starting today. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT - MARCH 2: Several newly-deployed body cameras and batteries sit in the patrol room charging and downloading video at the West Valley City Police Department on March 2, 2015 in West Valley City, Utah. West Valley City Police Department has issued 190 Taser Axon Flex body cameras for all it's sworn officers to wear starting today. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
In this photo taken Thursday, March 12, 2015, a video camera is visible on the eyeglasses of Seattle police officer Debra Pelich before a small community gathering in Seattle. The camera is attached to a battery pack and controls on the officer's uniform. When a Seattle television station sought copies of patrol-car dashboard videos from the city's police department, it took four years and a trip to the Washington Supreme Court for the records to start being provided. But as a dozen officers have started wearing body cameras in a pilot project to record interactions with the public, the department has taken a vastly different approach under new Chief Kathleen O'Toole. It's voluntarily putting blurry, silent versions of the videos on YouTube, giving the curious a chance to see what they entail while also protecting the privacy of those depicted. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 03: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio holds up a body camera that the New York Police Department (NYPD) will begin using during a press conference on December 3, 2014 in New York City. The NYPD is beginning a trial exploring the use of body cameras; starting Friday NYPD officers in three different precincts will begin wearing body cameras during their patrols. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 03: New York Police Department (NYPD) Sergeant Joseph Freer demonstrates how to use and operate a body camera during a media press conference on December 3, 2014 in New York City. The NYPD is beginning a trial exploring the use of body cameras; starting Friday NYPD officers in three different precincts will begin wearing body cameras during their patrols. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
A body camera from Taser is seen during a press conference at City Hall September 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department is embarking on a six- month pilot program where 250 body cameras will be used by officers. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
(L-R) Washington DC Police Officer Debra Domino, Master Patrol Officer Benjamin Fettering and Officer JaShawn Colkley model body cameras during a press conference at City Hall September 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department is embarking on a six- month pilot program where 250 body cameras will be used by officers. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
In this Feb. 2, 2015 photo, a red light on the body camera worn on Duluth, Minn. police officer Dan Merseth's uniform indicates it is active during a traffic stop in Duluth. The the city’s 110 officer-worn cameras are generating 8,000 to 10,000 videos per month that are kept for at least 30 days and in many cases longer, says Police Chief Gordon Ramsay. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
This Jan. 15, 2014 file photo shows Los Angeles Police Sgt. Daniel Gomez demonstrating a video feed from his camera into his cellphone as on-body cameras are demonstrated for the media in Los Angeles. Thousands of police agencies have equipped officers with cameras to wear with their uniforms, but they’ve frequently lagged in setting policies on how they’re used, potentially putting privacy at risk and increasing their liability. As officers in one of every six departments across the nation now patrols with tiny lenses on their chests, lapels or sunglasses, administrators and civil liberties experts are trying to envision and address troublesome scenarios that could unfold in front of a live camera. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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Officials are also testing the use of body cameras by officers in Baltimore, which on Monday saw riots following several days of protests over the death of a black man who suffered a fatal spine injury while in police custody.

The rules approved by the Los Angeles police commission require officers to turn on the body cameras when they pull over drivers, make arrests, engage in foot pursuits, transport suspects and interview witnesses and victims, among other times.

Hector Villagra, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said in a statement the plan for use of the body cameras has "serious flaws."

Villagra criticized the decision not to require release of the footage to the public after shootings. He also took issue with a part of the policy that lets officers involved in shootings review footage from a body camera before making their statements to investigators.

Los Angeles Police Protective League President Craig Lally said in a statement that the police union supports the policy.

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