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22% of LAPD agents did not activate the cameras quickly

Nearly a quarter of Los Angeles police officers involved in incidents where severe force was used failed to activate their body cameras in a timely manner, according to a recent review of those cases by the department’s inspector general.

Inspector General Mark Smith’s office reviewed the actions of 262 officers it considered to be largely involved in 53 use of force cases that were referred to the Civilian Police Commission between June 2020 and July 2021, including 33 police shootings.

He found that 218 of those officers were equipped with body cameras and had to activate them, and that seven did not do so completely while 41 others did so on a delayed basis without justification.

Together, these 48 failures represented 22% of the agents whose actions were reviewed.

“We have seen some compliance. We also saw shortcomings, ”Smith told the Civilian Police Commission at its meeting on Tuesday.

Of the recordings that were made, 51 – or 24% – did not have a full two-minute buffer, which the Inspector General’s office determined was the result, in all but one case, of the fact that officers did not keep their cameras on. .

Keeping cameras on has been a requirement for officers in the field since 2018. Of the 51 cases reviewed, 33 of the officers were in the field and therefore violated policy by turning off their cameras.

When turned on, the cameras continuously record a two-minute loop which is then recorded when an agent activates their camera. The two-minute buffer helps officers capture footage of what happened within two minutes of thinking about activating their camera, which is often the case when force occurs in rapidly developing situations .

The Inspector General’s review also found that in the same 53 cases of severe force, nearly 14% of the officers involved who were equipped with on-board digital video cameras and had to activate them did not.

The LAPD has stepped up body camera compliance inspections among officers involved in serious uses of force since last summer, according to the report. Nonetheless, he recommended additional efforts to ensure that officers routinely activate their cameras, keep them on in the field, and activate on-board video systems whenever appropriate, including during pedestrian stops.

The Inspector General also recommended that the ministry verify the effectiveness of its advice to officers about their obligations to record interactions with the public.

Police Commission President Eileen Decker asked LAPD chief Michel Moore if the department agreed with the Inspector General’s recommendations, and Moore said yes.

He told the commission that the department is taking the issue seriously and has gradually stepped up discipline for officers who fail to comply with camera policies, which were first launched in 2015.

Moore said commanders have taken officers’ camera compliance history into account when awarding promotions and assignments to coveted units, and reassigned supervisors who do not take camera compliance seriously.

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