Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti have laid out an ambitious plan to have 7,000 field officers strapped and streaming by the end of next year. But the Los Angeles City Council this month applied the brakes to the rapid rollout of the program after being presented with the details of the plan to buy thousands of cameras, a recent Los Angeles Times editorial recounts.
The bill was enormous: $57.6 million over five years for equipment and video storage, and some 128 new positions — most of them to be held by sworn, uniformed officers. If the council had sticker shock it's understandable, the piece goes on to say. While everyone was aware that the cameras and accessories would come at a substantial cost, the last public word on the program's price tag was Garcetti's estimate last year that it would be in the "high single-digit millions."
The council wisely put off approval of the program until next month. This is one of the most important initiatives undertaken by the Police Department in recent years, yet already concerns have been raised about the contracting process, climbing costs, and surprisingly high staffing requests that must be addressed before the program is allowed to move forward.
The body camera program is too important to allow even a shadow of doubt to linger, the piece concludes.