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LAPD officers now have body cameras

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POSTED December 17, 2013 8:51 p.m.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Downtown Angelenos may be the first to encounter a Los Angeles police officer equipped with a new on-body camera.

Police Commission President Steve Soboroff said Tuesday that 30 Los Angeles Police Department officers in Central Area, which covers downtown, have volunteered for field tests. They patrol major sections of the area by walking.

Sgt. Dan Gomez said the cameras will be used as soon as the department has drafted policies governing their use. According to a memo from Soboroff, those details will be decided in a January meeting. The public will also be able to weigh in online and in person before the civilian oversight board.

Soboroff privately raised more than $1.2 million to eventually equip hundreds of officers with on-body cameras to increase accountability and reduce complaints. That should buy 600 cameras for a field test once initial trials are completed. Two companies — Arizona-based Taser International Inc. and Coban Technologies Inc. of Houston — are lending cameras for 90-day trials before one type is recommended for use.

The Police Department plans to meet with the officers' union, which supports the cameras, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, members of the City Council, and the Police Commission's inspector general in creating the policies.

Nearly 25 donors helped fund the camera effort, including Hollywood heavy hitters like director Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, former mayor Richard Riordan, media giant Casey Wasserman and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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