The Los Angeles City Council approved a nearly $58 million plan last week to outfit every police officer with a body camera.
Under the five-year plan, the city will distribute 7,000 cameras to its officers as soon as 2017, pushing back its original 2016 completion date. Taser International Inc. will provide the cameras under a $31 million contract.
“Today’s action by the City Council is an investment in my vision of a Los Angeles Police Department that leads in transparency and accountability — values that protect officers and everyday Angelenos, and that are fundamental to policing in the 21st century,” Mayor Eric Garcetti wrote in a press release when the ordinance passed.
The cameras will tap into Wi-Fi recently installed at all LAPD stations to send the footage to storage servers. The city also plans to unveil smartphone apps for police officers that will, among other things, could allow officers to control the cameras.
Los Angeles has been pushing for cameras since 2013 and conducting field tests while the city’s Police Commission President Steve Soboroff fundraised $1.5 million to kick off the program. The Los Angeles Police Foundation donated the city’s first 860 body cameras, and the department rolled out the first batch last year, outfitting 250 officers in the Mission Hills area of the city.
Other large cities have been setting up their own body camera programs for police. In January 2015, Chicago launched a pilot body camera program, and a task force recently recommended that the program expand. New York City has conducted its own pilot program as well.
Body cameras also have been an interest of the White House: In 2014, President Barack Obama launched a $75 million effort through the Justice Department to match funding for state and local governments establishing body camera programs.
In a separate press release last year, Garcetti said the body cameras “will help law enforcement and the public alike find the truth — and truth is essential to the trust between the LAPD and the community, which has been a key factor in lowering crime to record lows.”