Los Angeles will become the nation’s largest city to equip all its patrol officers with body cameras, after a divided Los Angeles Police Commission gave its final approval during a heated debate that highlighted lingering concerns about how the cameras will be used, reports the Los Angeles Times. The 3-1 vote that signed off on the rules for the devices comes as police departments across the U.S. are considering whether to use the body cameras to provide a better record of officers' actions after a series of racially charged police killings. Who will get to see the videos and when remains a divisive issue. Two police commissioners yesterday got into a tense exchange over whether police officers should be allowed to review the footage before writing their reports or giving statements to internal investigators.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California opposed letting officers see the videos first, arguing that the practice would give them an opportunity to shape their accounts around what the recording showed. Giving officers but not the public a chance to look at the footage also undermined the accountability that the cameras are intended to bring, the organization said. Commissioner Robert Saltzman agreed, saying the department needed to be mindful of a widespread public perception that officers aren't always truthful. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said allowing officers to first look at the footage would help them “get to the truth of what occurs.”