Private Donors Pony Up $1.2M for LAPD Body Cameras

By TAMI ABDOLLAH | November 8, 2013

The head of the Los Angeles Police Commission said Wednesday he has privately raised more than the $1 million necessary to equip hundreds officers with on-body cameras to increase accountability and reduce complaints by the public.

In September, a week after taking the helm of the LAPD civilian oversight board, Steve Soboroff said he hoped to raise a $1 million for the project.

After 51 days, he said he had raised $1.2 million, primarily by word of mouth, so the department can buy 600 cameras for a field test. The implementation timetable has dropped from a year to nine months.

Soboroff said donations came from Hollywood heavy hitters including director Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, plus former mayor Richard Riordan, media giant Casey Wasserman and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The department plans to begin tests using 60 cameras this month.

The cameras will be on loan from two companies – Arizona-based Taser International Inc. and Coban Technologies Inc. of Houston. After 90 days, the department will recommend one type of camera and draft policies to govern use.

The Police Department plans to meet with the officers’ union, which supports the cameras, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, members of the City Council, and the Police Commission’s inspector general in creating the policies.

Police Chief Charlie Beck will determine who tests the cameras. Motorcycle officers and personnel in areas such as Venice Beach could get them first, Soboroff said. The department is also seeking volunteers.

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