Nearly 20 years ago, the Los Angeles Police Department was called upon to outfit all its patrol cars with video cameras. Today, the number of vehicles with functioning cameras stands at zero, reports the Los Angeles Times. While other law enforcement agencies around the U.S. put cameras into wide use, various Los Angeles chiefs and mayors failed to acquire the technology, as pilot programs fizzled amid budget constraints and tepid political support.
Despite having funding for hundreds of cameras, LAPD officials acknowledged that the project continues to founder because of technical malfunctions and poor planning. In a city where relations between police and minorities have been marred by mistrust and frequent claims of abuse, the cameras — mounted on windshields to record officers’ encounters with suspects — are seen as a powerful deterrent to police misconduct and a tool for defending cops against false accusations. “We’ve been dealing with this issue for too long,” said John Mack, president of the Police Commission. “We’ve got to start seeing some results.”