LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to transfer $25.5 million to the Sheriff’s Department to fund the roll-out of body-worn cameras to patrol deputies over the next year.
The board had set aside about $35 million to purchase body cameras, but had not yet transferred the money to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department while it waited for LASD to finalize a contract with a vendor.
Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger co-authored a motion calling for a transfer of funds sufficient to cover the first year of operations.
“Body-worn cameras are an important tool for transparency and I have
been advocating to get them to our sheriff’s deputies since Sheriff Jim
McDonnell was in office,” Hahn said. “The videos these cameras capture will
give us a clearer understanding of what actually happens in the interactions
between our deputies and members of the public.”
On Aug. 11, the department reached a deal with Axon Enterprise to equip 5,200 deputies with body cameras, according to Hahn.
Tuesday’s motion will transfer $25.5 million of that $35 million to the department to fund the first year of the program.
The L.A. County Office of the Inspector General had issued a report in June which stated that deputies would begin wearing body cameras this fall.
Body cameras are expected to be rolled out at five sheriff’s stations in October: West Hollywood, Lancaster, Lakewood, Industry and Century City.
In a statement on agency’s website, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said it would take about 18 months to deploy the cameras department-wide. The 16-page body-cam transparency policy is also available on the website.
The sheriff’s department has been accused of dragging its feet on the body camera issue. Deputies on Monday afternoon shot and killed a 29-year-old possibly armed Black man in South L.A., setting off a flood protests and questions about why the department still does not have body cameras.
“Why doesn’t the L.A. County Sheriff have bodycams?” asked Earl Ofari Hutchinson Tuesday, president of the L.A. Urban Policy Roundtable, in response to the shooting. “All we have to go on with this latest shooting is one thing: their word.”
Speaking at a town hall in June, Sheriff Alex Villanueva blamed his predecessors and the Board of Supervisors for the delay and said body cameras have been his priority since day one.
“The previous administration had five years…of wasted time, wasted opportunities and four different plans, four different studies and nothing ever came to fruition,” Villanueva said.