Hundreds, if not thousands, of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies have been purchasing their own body cameras despite the agency still lacking a policy regarding the recording equipment.
The deputies say the devices offer them some reassurance on the job. But because the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department doesn’t yet have a policy in place for using the devices, it prompts some serious questions regarding transparency.
“It’s a recipe for disaster,” said Melanie Ochoa, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. “I would imagine officers would be quite willing to turn it over if it paints them in a good light, but what is the access if it does not?”
Without a policy, there’s no guarantee that the footage won’t be tampered with, or for that matter, even be disclosed to the public.
Nearly every large U.S. police department has a policy for officers who wear body cameras, and it has become somewhat common to see video from these cameras emerge — sometimes due to court orders — following high-profile shootings and other clashes.
Roughly 20 percent of Los Angeles County’s 10,000 deputies have bought cameras for themselves. Sheriff Jim McDonnell concedes that as many as 2,000 wear them on duty.
But regardless of how many deputies wear a body camera, not a…