Crime & Justice

More LAPD patrol cars to get video cameras

A patrol car belonging to the Los Angeles Police Department is parked while training excercises are conducted on July 6, 2009.
A patrol car belonging to the Los Angeles Police Department is parked while training excercises are conducted on July 6, 2009.
Michal Czerwonka/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Police Department is ready to equip more of its patrol cars with video cameras, according to the official in charge of the program, who said today the high-tech devices performed well in
recent field tests.

Testifying before the Police Commission, LAPD Information Technology Bureau chief Maggie Goodrich said "digital in-car video'' has worked well for officers in the Southeast Division, who have been testing it over the past month.

As a result, a second group of officers is being trained to start using the system within the next few days.

"[Southeast Division] officers are using it. They're uploading their videos, they're using it ... before they write their reports, things like that. We're getting positive feedback and things seem to be going very well,'' Goodrich said.

"Given the progress that we've made, we have actually started training the gang officers at 77th [Street Community Police Station], which will be our next area to receive in-car video,'' she said. "They're going to start using the system at the end of this week.''

Goodrich said patrol officers at the same station will be trained to use the system next month.

Police Commission Chairman John Mack seemed impressed by the report, telling Goodrich, "We commend you. It's great to hear some good news for a change on this subject.''

"I look forward to when we're able to pull the video (to) help us resolve either personnel complaints, shootings or other instances,'' added Police Commissioner Alan Skobin.

The City Council in 2005 approved a $5.47 million contract to install video cameras in the South Bureau -- which includes both the Southeast Division and the 77th Street Community Police Station.

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

The 77th Street Community Police Station, meanwhile, covers about 12 square miles in the Crenshaw District, Athens Park, Chesterfield Square, Gramercy Park, Hyde Park, Vermont Knolls, View Heights, Vermont Park and Morningside Park.

The LAPD is hopeful that the cameras will help them get control over much of the city's gang activity which is concentrated in these areas.

Under Phase 1 of the project, 300 patrol cars were the first to be equipped with 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 at a cost of $20-25 million. The LAPD is hopeful that this can be done by the end of the summer despite the city's money woes.

Wire services contributed to this report.