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The Los Angeles Police Department will be the first major city police force to equip each of its officers with a bodycam, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced in a press conference Tuesday. In response to President Obama's executive order to help fund officer-mounted cameras for 50,000 police, the LAPD will roll out 7,000 cameras for its cops.
The push for greater video evidence of police activities comes in the midst of national protests against police killings of young black men. Bodycam advocates argue that the required surveillance will increase accountability and lessen police impunity. "Trust is built on transparency," Garcetti said.
But anti-police brutality advocates have also argued that mandatory bodycams alone will not end the problem of police violence, pointing to examples like the death of Eric Garner, which was caught on tape but still did not lead to an indictment of the officer who choked the black man. Meanwhile, Rialto, California, has seen a 60 percent decrease in the use of police force, within one year of rolling out its bodycam pilot program.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told press that the bodycams would not record police activity at all times. The Huffington Post reported that while precise policies for camera use will not be finalized until next year, it is likely that police would turn off cameras in certain instances, like while interviewing victims of sexual abuse. The first 800 cameras are expected to be distributed within six months.
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