County supervisors vote for LASD deputies to wear body cameras

LASD car. Signal file photo.
LASD car. Signal file photo.

Deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are expected to be equipped with body cameras soon after county supervisors voted for them unanimously Tuesday.

For local deputies, wearing the all-capturing video cameras will be business as usual.

“We welcome the approval of the LA County Board of Supervisors in implementing the body cameras,” Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station said late Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s really not going to change anything about the way they do their job,” she said. “Deputies are held to the highest of professional standards in their service to the public, and they’ve been doing a great job out there.

“So, no it’s not going to affect anything. They will continue doing what they’re doing and partnering with the community to keep crime down and Santa Clarita Valley safe,” Miller said.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 in favor of the body-worn cameras which would record all interactions deputies have with the public.

The motion submitted by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis calls for the phased implementation of a body-worn camera program in the LASD.

LASD officials were expected to issue a formal response to the decision Tuesday evening.

Access to the camera footage would be available to prosecutors with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, as well as the public defender and alternate public defender.

A number of county officials such as the inspector general, sheriff, public defender, alternate public defender, district attorney, chief executive officer, county counsel and Civilian Oversight Commission are now required to report back, in writing, in 90 days, and every 60 days after that, on the program’s progress.

In their motion, Ridley-Thomas and Solis call the body cams a “widely used tool across the country to improve accountability and transparency of law enforcement.”

They also point out that the county has been considering body-worn cameras since the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence recommended, in 2012, that the LASD use them to address problematic use of force. 

A constantly changing technology and shifting projected costs, however, have delayed the body cams being worn. 

In July 2018, however, the Civilian Oversight Commission approved a report recommending the county move forward with body cams.

A month later, supervisors unanimously approved a Ridley-Thomas/Solis motion to hire an expert consultant to make recommendations. That expert was the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

The IACP unveiled its report in June, along with a number of recommendations.

On the question of cost, the IACP considers the proposed $34.4 million for the body-cam program with 33 new full-time staff reasonable given the scale of the sheriff’s patrol operations.  

The cost includes $20.2 million in one-time costs related to the purchase of equipment, infrastructure upgrades, patrol personnel training, $14.2 million in ongoing costs for staffing and software licenses, and internet, cellular and cloud services.

The IACP also recommended setting aside a $3 million contingency reserve should unanticipated costs arise during implementation.

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