LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — New questions are being raised Friday about the Los Angeles Police Department’s in-car cameras after an audit found that supervisors aren’t spot-checking the videos properly to monitor officer conduct.
The LAPD in-car camera audit generally gave the department good marks for its handling of the cameras but it also raised some issues and concerns as the inspector general for the police commission charges that supervisors aren’t spot-checking the videos to see if officers are breaking the rules.
Instead, the IG said the tapes are only being checked in response to a specific complaint or incident.
The report also found that some officers don’t always turn on the in-car camera when making pedestrian stops.
“The combination of in-car video and on-body video is so protective of the public and so protective of the officers that it’s very exciting,” said Steve Soboroff, president of the Los Angeles Police Commission.
Soboroff told KCAL9’s Dave Bryan the in-car cameras in conjunction with the hundreds of body cameras, the first batch of which is scheduled to arrive in April, will dramatically increase the transparency of the LAPD and officer conduct.
But Soboroff agrees with a new directive that officers must turn on cameras at the start of every stop they make whether pedestrian or vehicular.
“You can’t expect officers to do things that they aren’t specifically trained to do,” Soboroff said “This isn’t done through mental telepathy. It’s done through training and research and I think that both the Inspector General and the department in this case are lock-step.”
Just a year ago, investigators found about half the LAPD cars in one South L.A. patrol division were missing antennas which, in conjunction with body microphones, captured what officers were saying when they stopped people.
Soboroff said at the time that he was very troubled to have people who don’t like the rules take it upon themselves to do something like this.
But now Soboroff says he thinks things have changed among the officers.
“I don’t find resistance. I’m not saying 10,000 people are all smiles but I don’t believe there is resistance. I think a lot of progress has been made, Dave, in the last 18 months,” he said.
The first shipment of body cameras will arrive next month but the installation of in-car cameras could take a lot longer as the South Bureau is currently the only bureau that has in-car cameras. Soboroff said it costs about $10 million per bureau to buy and install the cameras and budgets are tight.