LAPD Chief Apologizes for Patrol Car Camera Tampering Debacle

Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 07:44 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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LAPD Chief Charlie Beck apologized to his civilian bosses on the police commission this week for not alerting them about officers' widespread tampering with patrol car cameras, meant to keep them honest after years of federal oversight.

"It is on us," he said, according to The Los Angeles Times. "We will take whatever actions are needed to make sure" mistakes are not made again.

News of the tampering came to light in July of last year, when LAPD investigators discovered that half of the cameras' antennas in one 80-car South L.A. unit had been removed. Officials found the cars of nearby divisions had also removed antennas.

Beck told commission President Steve Soboroff about the tampering, but the full commission did not know until February, at a time when they were reviewing a shooting and noticed the poor quality of the audio.

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In addition to the apology, Beck said they would make sure the antennas were never again tampered with by making unannounced checks on random cars, and requiring officers to document the two antennas in each car at the beginning and end of each shift.

The cameras had originally come into use in 2010 after the federal Justice Department ended its oversight, convinced that the LAPD could monitor itself for things like racial profiling.

Deputy Chiefs Rick Jacobs and Bob Green, as well as Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger, attended the weekly meeting to put "an exclamation point on how important this whole question of digital in-car video and also other accountability technologies are to the department."

"Did we fall short?" Paysinger said. "I think the simple answer is, 'Yes.'"

Beck said no officers will be punished at this time. Plans to install the cameras across hundreds more cars as well as plans to outfit officers with on-body cameras are expected to proceed.

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