Funds Being Raised For On-Body Cameras
Posted by Melissa Simon on Oct 7, 2013 - 4:38:16 PM
LOS ANGELES—In one month, the Los Angeles Police Commission has raised more than half of their goal to implement a new pilot program using on-body cameras for all Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers.
On September 8, Police Commissioner President Steve Soboroff announced plans to begin the fundraising for the program after consulting with several people involved in public safety, including Police Chief Charlie Beck and Councilman Mitch Englander, who is also a reserve officer and chair of the Public Safety Committee.
Model of the Taser on-body camera. Photo courtesy of Taser.
“I spoke with 29 people and with every single one, on their top list was the fact that in-car cameras were fantastic at protecting the officers and protecting the public, but the only problem is that most crimes aren’t committed in a police car,” Soboroff told Canyon News. “Councilman Englander told me about the technology of on-body cameras that really protect both the officer and the public and by protect I mean constitutional rights, civil rights and good community policing on both sides of the camera,” he added.
The on-body cameras would be complimentary to the in-car cameras, according to Soboroff, who said there is no need to make changes to something the city is already proceeding with. He said the results for the police departments that use the cameras are astounding, with an 80 percent decrease in officer complaints.
With current budget issues, Soboroff said the bureaucratic process would take multiple years and the pilot program has to be proven. Soboroff said this is the “mother of all pilot programs” because it is going to be done on a large scale and is not small like the typical pilot program.
“I felt that if we could take a third of the force and put the cameras on them immediately, the results would be so dramatic it would trigger the city in doing the balance of the force very soon,” he said. “You’ve got to prove it to them with no risk to the city at all—no risk for maintenance, purchase equipment, upgrade equipment, storage, security, on breakage of equipment, on technology upgrades—and to show the kinds of returns it would have, including the changes it would have in officer complaints, officer paperwork and in arrests because people act differently when they’re being filmed,” he added.
To do this, the Commission is seeking funding from the private sector with the caveat that the program may fail, but not for a lack of trying.
“What I didn’t realize was that my projection was wrong,” he said. “It’s not going to be 18 months it’s going to be nine. The response of when it became public was because it was such a bold prediction, the money started flowing,” he added.
As of Monday, October 7, Soboroff said they have raised $620,000 of the $1 million goal to cover 500 units, with contributions from several high profile people including Jeffrey Katzenberg, Casey Wasserman, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Richard Riordan and Roberta Winthrop, among others. Soboroff said Wasserman donated $250,000, which is a significant amount.
Soboroff said a program like this is not only historic, but is also transformative as well. He added that the request for the number of units will be adjusted based on the amount of money that comes in.
Taser on-body camera. Photo courtesy of Taser.
“My hope is to finish the fundraising within another month and then the first set of cameras is going to be tested for 90 days and that’s going to start in about a week or so,” he said. “We’re way ahead of the schedule and my feeling is that if a woman can give birth in nine months, we should be able to have cameras in nine months because both are miracles,” he added.
There are currently two or three companies in the bidding for the contract to supply the cameras, according to Soboroff, with one being Taser. To do this, there will be a 90-day loan period to test 50 units and then a selection will be made after adjustments are made.
“It’s a big thing for not only safety, but financially as well,” Soboroff said. “If somebody wants to do something historic or transformative for the city, this is a one time thing. We’re still $400,000 away so [if they want to donate] they can call me. I want to get finished with the fundraising and if I go over that means we can outfit more officers and protect more people at the same time,” he added.
To contact Soboroff, call the Police Commission at 213-482-6833.
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