Despite considerable protesting by activist groups and other foundations, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was awarded $1 million in funding from the Federal Justice Department for their highly body camera program. As reported by the LA Times, the funding is a part of a larger initiative designed to introduce the technology to departments across the country, with over $20 million in funds slated for disbursement.
In Los Angeles, the federal dollars will be used to purchase roughly 700 body cameras – upping the total of cameras owned by the county to little over 1500. In time, the LAPD plans to obtain an additional 7,000 cameras, making it the largest police force in the country utilizing the technology.
However, not everyone is quite convinced. Many, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have accused the Justice Department of putting on a good show but not really demanding full transparency in our nation’s officers. In particular, the LAPD has clearly stated that despite a year’s worth of documented police beatings and civil rights violations occurring across the country, it will not release the footage from their cameras unless ordered to do so by the court. To many this completely undermines the effort put forth by President Obama and only serves to reinforce the problems that already exist in law enforcement accountability. In regards to the Justice Department’s decision to fund the LAPD’s program, the executive director of the local ACLU chapter said, “[The Justice Department] has chosen to fund a department with body camera policies that are at odds with those goals and instead maintain secrecy and sow distrust.”
Ultimately, community officials hope that the cameras will function as a benefit – rather than a hindrance – to officers in the field and the citizens they serve. However, if law enforcement officials choose to violate the public trust, with or without this technology, there are legal options. For more information on police brutality in your community and your rights, contact Kahn Roven, LLP today. We can be reached at (888) 366-5854.