A federal monitor overseeing the Los Angeles Police Department wants the city to put video cameras in police cars to measure whether officers are treating minorities fairly, the Los Angeles Times says. It is a step embraced by many departments nationwide but so far avoided by the LAPD. Federal monitor Michael Cherkasky told the City Council and the Police Commission that federal monitoring of the police is likely to be extended beyond next year because the force has yet to comply with reform efforts. In the 1990s, the LAPD experimented with a video camera system in patrol cars in some areas but opted not to expand it because the thousands of cumbersome videotapes were hard to store and would have required vast warehouses with retrieval systems, said Councilman Bernard C. Parks, a former police chief.
Cherkasky responded that digital video now can be stored cheaply and easily with quick retrieval and that warehousing should no longer be an issue. Police Chief William Bratton has said he is interested in placing cameras in the more than 1,200 patrol cars but said he saw it as a long-term project. The department is seeking funding to begin equipping a small number of test cars with cameras. Hundreds of police agencies use in-car camera technology to record traffic stops. Some agencies, such as the Seattle police, have begun installing wireless cameras that can download images to data storage at stations.