Los Angeles will announce plans Tuesday to outfit every city police officer with body-worn cameras, an ambitious change that would make it the biggest police force in the country to fully adopt the devices.
Mayor Eric Garcetti will announce the roll-out of wearable cameras Tuesday and attempt to position the LAPD as a national leader in using devices that advocates say reduce use-of-force incidents and citizen complaints, while also providing recorded evidence of confrontations with police.
Los Angeles police have been testing body-worn cameras since January, but communities have increasingly adopted them since the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August. No video recordings of the incident were taken, and witnesses had conflicting accounts of Brown’s encounter with Officer Darren Wilson, who a grand jury decided not to indict.
Experts say more than 5,000 of the 18,500 police departments around the U.S. are either testing or using the cameras, including some of the biggest agencies in the country, like the New York Police Department and the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C.
While there are few studies showing the benefits of body-worn cameras, the one department that appears to have had proven success with them is in the Los Angeles suburb of Rialto, where the agency reported an 88% drop in complaints filed against officers and a 60% decline in use-of-force incidents since its officers started using wearable cameras in February 2012.