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LAPD Body Cameras Get Final OK From City Council

A West Valley City, Utah patrol officer operates his newly-issued Taser Axon Flex body camera. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
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After months of debates and delays, the LAPD's costly body camera initiative got final approval from City Council during a vote Wednesday, when the council signed off on a plan to spend $57.6 million to equip nearly every LAPD officer with a body camera. City News Service reports that the council will move forward on a five-year, $31 million contract with Taser International, purchasing about 7,000 body cameras and 4,400 stun guns from the company. The department will also purchase Sprint cell phones that officers can use to review and manage the video footage, as well as for other police duties; the phones will cost an estimated $23 million in total. An additional $4 million will go towards infrastructure costs.

The L.A. Times reports that the initiative will make the LAPD "the largest law enforcement agency in the nation to use the devices on such a widespread scale." According to KPCC, 860 LAPD officers in three districts are already equipped with body cameras.

Body cameras have become an increasingly popular solution (or at least possible response) to the police use-of-force issues dominating the national discussion, though LA.'s initiative has come under fire from advocates like the ACLU, who argue that the city should make the video from the cameras public.

"The LAPD's program, while perhaps the biggest... is not even close to being the best," ACLU attorney Catherine Wagner told lawmakers yesterday during a hearing on the matter in the council's Public Safety Committee, according to the L.A. Times.

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Mayor Eric Garcetti has been a vocal proponent for the cameras, and told City News Service that today's council action was "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.''