LAPD closer to installing video cameras in patrol cars

Video cameras could be installed in patrol cars throughout at least one division of the Los Angeles Police Department by spring, officials revealed today.

Maggie Goodrich, an administrator with the LAPD's Information Technology Bureau, said complaints about the video cameras producing blurry images and marking the wrong time appear to have been fixed.

"We feel like we've got the right settings now,'' she told the City Council's Public Safety Committee, but added that weeks of further testing are planned.

Some of the problems disappeared when the video cameras were detached from the patrol cars' on-board computers, Goodrich said.

She plans to make a recommendation in early to mid-April on whether the LAPD should continue trying to integrate the systems or leave them separate.

"If the (police officers testing the video cameras) say that the system is working for them stand-alone, I don't see any reason why we couldn't go ahead and go to all of Southeast (Division) with that stand-alone system and get the cameras out there and being used in the whole area by sometime end of April (or the) very first part of May,'' Goodrich said.

The Southeast Division, which spans 10.2 square miles and has about 150,000 residents, serves the neighborhoods of Athens Park, Harbor Gateway, Jordan Downs, Nickerson Gardens, San Miguel and Watts.

Councilman Dennis Zine said if the pilot program is successful, he hopes video cameras will be "up and fully operational'' in the LAPD's entire South Bureau — which includes the Southeast Division — by summer.

LAPD's South Bureau, which oversees a population of roughly 640,000 people, encompasses 57.6 square miles and such landmarks as USC, Exposition Park, the Watts Towers, Harbor Gateway and the Port of Los Angeles.

"It's been a long time in coming, but I'm hopeful that with new leadership in the LAPD, it can get done,'' Zine said.

The City Council in 2005 approved a $5.47 million contract to install video cameras in the South Bureau. Under Phase 1 of the project, 300 patrol cars were the first to get the video cameras.

If the system is found to be successful, the rest of LAPD's 1,600 patrol cars may be equipped with video cameras later, at a cost of $20-25 million.