Commission approves policy for Los Angeles police body cameras

Los Angeles Police to Receive 7,000 Body Cameras
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.

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.