The city of Los Angeles is buying 7,000 body cameras to be worn by officers while on patrol, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday.
The move is an effort by authorities to increase transparency in the wake of a spree of confirmed and perceived acts of officer misconduct across the country.
The cameras “are not a panacea, but they are a critical part of the formula. They’re a great step forward,” Garcetti said, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
The police commission has raised more than $1 million through private donations for the cameras, which has allowed for them to skirt the red tape that comes with city hall appropriations, the Times reported. The other portion of monies raised to pay for the contract negotiated between the city and Taser will come from a National Institute of Justice research grant, Mashable reported. The contract could cost several million dollars and is expected to rollout in the final fiscal quarter of 2016.
Because of this alternate venue of cash — one with little public scrutiny — LAPD is able to acquire much more in a shorter period of time with some private donations coming from corporations. In 2007, the department reportedly used the Los Angeles Police Foundation, a private charity linked to the department, to accept a $200,000 donation from a private company to purchase surveillance software originally designed for spy agencies, a ProPublica investigation found.
Law enforcement has been using dashboard cameras in its cruisers for some time, but the technology in many cases only captures the audio from one side — the officer’s perspective.
With these new body cameras, both sides of the interactions between LAPD and the public will be recorded, for better or for worse.
LAPD spent 90 days testing different types of body cameras on its officers earlier this year and has studied up on best practices from other agencies that have already implemented the technology, the Times reported.