For about the next month and a half, Los Angeles city law enforcement will be accepting public feedback to a question that has been at the forefront of policing in the last few years: when, if ever, should police release footage from officers’ body-mounted cameras?
The Los Angeles Police Commission will be holding a series of public comment meetings at different LAPD bureaus. You can see the dates and locations of those forums here. The Commission has asked the New York University School of Law’s Policing Project, which has worked with police departments in New York and New Jersey on similar body camera policies, to gather the public input.
LAPD policy currently does not allow for the release video footage of any kind, be it body-mounted, dashcam or otherwise, unless there’s a court order or a public safety risk of some kind. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has said in the past that he considers body cameras to be an ‘investigative tool’ that’s not meant for the public’s eyes. Supporters echo his concern, saying that public viewing of footage could result in witness testimony being influenced or privacy of victims being violated. Opponents say the release of the footage allows for more transparency and holds police more accountable for their actions, especially in situations like officer-involved shootings.
Peter Bibring, senior staff attorney and director of police practices for the ACLU of Southern California
Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the labor union representing LAPD officers