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
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)
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: 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)
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)
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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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