LAPD Law Enforcement

LA Police Commission Seeks Public Comment as It Reviews LAPD Body Cam Policy

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

Late last week, the Los Angeles Police Commission launched a review of the LAPD’s policy regarding the release (or more often, withholding) of video footage from body-worn and car-mounted cameras of officer-involved shootings and other incidents. As part of the review, the commission is seeking public comment on the issue.

The implementation of officer-worn cameras is spreading across the US as departments work to promote accountability and increase public trust in law enforcement. However, some law enforcement agencies’ body cam policies keep most videos from ever seeing the light of day.

The LAPD withholds videos from the public, unless a court orders the footage to be released. Department policy also allows officers to review body cam video before making an initial statement after an incident.

The department has faced criticism from the ACLU and other advocates and community members who want videos of critical incidents released to the public.

“Los Angeles officials have touted body cameras as a way to provide transparency and accountability and build trust between police and the public in moments of crisis,” SoCal ACLU Director of Police Practices Peter Bibring and Staff Attorney Catherine Wagner wrote in August of last year. “But that’s not how it has played out because the LAPD’s policies for body cameras don’t provide transparency or assure the public that officers will be held accountable.”

Allowing officers to watch footage of a shooting “allows cops who are inclined to lie to tailor their story to the evidence,” said Bibring and Wagner.

The LAPD is spending More than $57 million to put cameras on 7,000 officers by 2018. Right now, around 2,000 officers are outfitted with the cameras.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the LAPD officers’ union, has stood firmly against the release of body cam video.

“Releasing excerpts of body worn camera video will only further inject politics into what should be an independent investigation of any particular incident,” the LAPPL wrote in a statement released last week. “Video is only one aspect of an investigation and to push for release of that video, prior to the completion of the investigation, will only taint the impartiality of the investigatory findings and that is not what the Chief should be striving for.”

Another common worry is that releasing video of a critical incident or other use of force will jeopardize the safety of the officers and victims involved.

However, as far back as 2015, voters were overwhelmingly in support of public access to body cam footage.

An ACLU and California Center for Advocacy and Policy poll found that four out of five voters wanted police to wear body cameras, and voters supported giving the public access to that footage.

Some law enforcement agencies, like those in Las Vegas and Chicago, have far more transparent body cam policies.

The Chicago Police Department releases video of shootings and other critical incidents within 60 days, but police, as well as state and federal prosecutors, can request a 30-day extension.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department generally releases video to the public between five and ten days after an incident during a press briefing. During the briefing, information about the incident, the officer(s) and civilian(s) involved, as well as any video of the confrontation, is released.

In San Diego County, law enforcement agencies only share video with the public after the District Attorney’s Office completes an investigation and decides not to bring charges against law enforcement or civilian parties. If charges are brought, the video is either released during trial or after the conclusion of the case.

Last November, the Pasadena branch of the NAACP filed a lawsuit against the city of Pasadena after the Pasadena Police Department made changes to its body cam policy, including allowing officers to view footage before submitting statements, and allowing the department to hold back sections of video and “cherry-pick” what is released to the public.

The police commission and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck are seeking public input on whether (and when, and under what circumstances) body cam video should be released to the public.

The commission held a community roundtable last week, and has three more scheduled in April in different areas of Los Angeles. (Get more info, including meeting dates and locations: here.)

Those who cannot attend a community forum, but want to share their thoughts on the policy, can take a questionnaire and upload comments: here.

14 Comments

  • We all know why departments are reluctant to release footage right? Can you say civil liability? Can you say more substantiated complaints? How many times have you filed a complaint against an officer only to have it come back as unsubstantiated? How many times have we thought to ourselves…if only i had video to disprove the officers lie? Finally, how many times have you done a public records request for audio or body cam footage only to have it denied?

    Keep in mind, officers can review footage of these incidents (the same footage that we don’t have access to) . Why would an officer who is accused of excessive force be able to study the video? Don’t you know what happened? You beat the hell out of someone and now you need to study the video or audio?

    This is why we need to continually record the police. Look up the right to record act signed by governor brown. It’s codified in the penal code. We have an absolute right to record police as long as we do not interfere.

  • And yet the ACLU attempts to limit the rights of officers to video those they have encounters with. Explain to me why that is. I’ve always been fine with being recorded though it’s understandable cities and depts that get sued needlessly want to limit how and when they’re released. Reviewing footage is no different than reviewing any other evidence in a criminal or civil matter because the bottom line is you want to get to the truth of the matter, don’t you?

    • “Reviewing footage is no different than reviewing any other evidence in a criminal or civil matter because the bottom line is you want to get to the truth of the matter, don’t you?”

      That’s not the issue, officer. The issue is centered around allowing officers to review the footage while not allowing the general public to review the same video. Let’s not play games here. Furthermore, if officers are ok with being video recorded, why do they routinely flash the light into the lense of our cameras? Please don’t tell me that it’s done for “office safety” in order to ensure the camera is t a gun. Please dont insult our intelligence here.

  • You didn’t answer me about the A.C.L.U. Plus I have absolutely no respect for cop blockers or people like you, none. I’m making myself real clear right. When edited videos or snippets of an encounter that one of you throw onto YouTube get some cred it’s bs. That’s why investigations need to be based on the totality of an incident, not your biased nonsense. That means from start to finish, not what you want people to perceive to be start to finish based on a bit of video. Understand that as someone whose investigated countless use of force incidents I take all of those encounters seriously and don’t cover for any officer who acts out of policy or in an illegal manner, but knowing the agenda people like you are driven by, you’re talking to the wrong guy.

  • Stand down and deflate your bullet proof chest. I have held leadership positions requiring review and approval of discipline matters. I’ve scrutinized investigations of law enforcement officers. I’ve given the word for their discharge, suspensions, and demotions. If it’s a resume contest, you need not show up.

    You having no respect for me and others who hold gangs in blue accountable means nothing. You are a non factor. However, I will say this, your primary responsibility is to uphold the constitution. That also includes recognizing and protecting the rights of those who utilize the first amendment (videotaping public officials). Regardless of whether you agree with it.

    You need to do better or resign.

  • My resume starts in the 70’s and been through it all, not one use of force complaint in my career, not one. You and your kind mean nothing to me, we’re done.

  • “Gangs in Blue”, you know where you can put that poser. Your resume, ha ha, a leftist little shill who still couldn’t answer me. No standing at all, not a bit.

  • Not one complaint?? So, are you suggesting that you have not lied on a report? Have you not used excessive force? I would be willing to bet you 1, 000.00 that you could not pass a polygraph administered by a neutral third party. The examiner will ask you two simple questions (1) have you ever used excessive force during the course of your employment (2) have you ever lied on an official police report. Be careful how you answer. Our bet just might make the news!

  • Nope to both, never had to, and by the way your posts reek of lies as to who you are and what you’ve done. Go first to last and you can tell that but than I’m a trained investigator with decades of experience behind me, you’re a youngster living in mom’s basement with a cell phone right? See there junior, I grew up in the community I policed for the greater part of my career, home town boy, jock, army vet and and knew lots of the players and they knew me or their family did or friends…it helped. Lies and brutality get you fired, couldn’t feed my family if that happened, plus just not part of my DNA and tons like me out there. You think it’s the opposite and your one line shows it which is total bs as to who you are… “I have held leadership positions requiring review and approval of discipline matters. I’ve scrutinized investigations of law enforcement officers. I’ve given the word for their discharge, suspensions, and demotions.” What a load that is, you’re a flat out liar. I’ve in fact past poly’s on incidents, twice where I asked because I was simply “there.” You’re dealing with a good guy but you think all cops are “The Gang in Blue.” That’s what shows you’re just a poser playing, not anybody serious. A cop blocker type kid. Back to mommy and daddy’s basement for you, time for me to hit the road.

  • Let me shut you up real quick…do you accept my bet? 1,000.00 says the examiner will find deception in one or both of the questions. I call your bluff!

  • Sorry youngster, I would win but not interested. Your attempt to have me say who I am is silly and cheap, same as every cop hater out there. I don’t care what you believe. Back to your basement child, no more responses, post what you like.

  • From you posting this, to your last post shows you to be the little boy fraud living in mommy’s basement I said you were. You wouldn’t make a pimple on a probationer’s ass. Have fun on YouTube with your 30 second snippets A.H.

    “Stand down and deflate your bullet proof chest. I have held leadership positions requiring review and approval of discipline matters. I’ve scrutinized investigations of law enforcement officers. I’ve given the word for their discharge, suspensions, and demotions. If it’s a resume contest, you need not show up.”

    What a bunch of bs, ha ha, too funny. Only word you give is when you ask mommy for some allowance.

    Bye boy.

  • Silence! When you are willing to accept the challenge, then may you speak. Otherwise, stand down you coward! Karma will get you for all of your misdeeds while on duty.

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