Deputies to get body-worn cameras; SCV station not in first rollout wave

Motorcycle deputies line Valencia Blvd. Thursday afternoon as protesters gather at the SCV Sheriff's Station. June 4, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Come October, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies will start receiving body-worn cameras after the department entered into an agreement with Axon Enterprise Inc., Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced during an interview broadcast Wednesday. 

The rollout of the camera program, for which the agreement was reached Tuesday, is estimated to equip 5,200 deputies and security officers with devices over the next two years utilizing the nearly $35 million that the Board of Supervisors set aside last year to fund the program, according to a county news release Wednesday. 

“I am pleased that the contract for body-worn cameras has been finalized and the sheriff can move forward with providing cameras to the deputies expeditiously. This is an important opportunity to ensure much-needed transparency and accountability to our communities and those that we serve,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, said in the release. 

SCV Sheriff’s Station deputies will not immediately receive cameras, as the devices are slated to be released first to a group of five other stations: Century, Industry, Lakewood, Lancaster and West Hollywood. All other stations are expected to follow “soon,” according to Villanueva. 

“This was a 20-month battle since the very first week I took office to get this program up and running,” Villanueva said. “In today’s climate, where everybody is doubting the product of law enforcement, I can say, honestly, that with the body-worn cameras, the public themselves can 

see that what deputies are saying and doing in the field matches what they’re seeing on video.”  

Prior to the agreement, deputies could only wear them if they purchased the devices themselves. SCV law enforcement officials have voiced their support for body-worn cameras despite delays in implementing the program. 

Supervisors have worked to provide the necessary policies, funding and staffing to allow for the program’s implementation in efforts that stretch back to a motion approved in 2012, according to Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, of the 2nd District.

The sheriff acknowledged the efforts in a June 22 letter to the board and said that funding issues had delayed the project. 

The board said Wednesday the contract was a “culmination of ongoing efforts” to “prioritize greater transparency and accountability from the Sheriff’s Department.” 

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