After years of false starts, the Los Angeles Police Department is on the verge of installing digital video cameras in 300 patrol cars, the Los Angeles Times reports. A test of four competing systems led Police Chief William Bratton to recommend a contract with IBM Corp. for the first phase of a program that will have the cameras installed in all 1,600 patrol cars citywide.
The video cameras will help hold officers accountable for their conduct and protect them against false accusations, said Alan Skobin, vice president of the Police Commission, which is expected award the $5-million contract today. The cameras are endorsed by the union representing rank-and-file officers, with the qualifier that officers accused of misconduct have access to review the video evidence. “It’s a good accounting of what happened at the scene,” said Bob Baker, president of the L.A. Police Protective League. “A lot of time when there is a traffic stop, things are alleged by citizens that didn’t happen. I think it’s great for the officers, great for the community and great for the city.” Police agencies began installing video cameras in patrol cars in the late 1980s. There were more than 17,500 cameras in cars by 2004, about a quarter of them paid for with federal grants, says the International Association of Chiefs of Police.