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Custody Deputies May Wear Personal Video Cameras

Cropped_taserLos Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials are considering having custody deputies wear personal video cameras while on duty.

 

 

Photos Courtesy of TaserInternational

At the L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting today Sheriff Lee Baca and members of his command staff gave a report on the cameras and other institutional changes in response to an October 18 report by Special Counsel Merrick Bobb and the Office of Independent Review (OIR) which suggested a series of recommendations on inmate treatment.

Regarding Officer Worn Video Cameras, Merrick Bobb and the OIR recommended:

“Policies should include a requirement that all custody personnel record all interactions with inmates, including Title 15 checks, any movement throughout the jail facilities and any use of force.”

Failure to record or immediately report any use of force against inmates must be “appropriately disciplined.”


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Sheriff Lee Baca said the department is working with the county Chief Executive Office on a feasibility study regarding the purchase of Officer Worn Video Cameras and identifying potential funding.

axon_diagramThree video cameras have been selected, according to officials, and the department is “currently evaluating their abilities to function in this capacity.” (None of the camera companies have been named.)

Police departments in Denver and Wichita are considering using personal cameras for their officers.

Taser International compares dash mount cameras, versus body worn cameras and their over the ear model, Axon, which is worn like a Bluetooth earpiece. To view the demonstration, click here.

While Officer Worn Video Cameras in the county custody facilities are still being studied, the LASD has moved ahead with the Board’s recommendation to install a Closed Circuit Television system (CCTV) at the Men’s Central Jail (MCJ).

Phase One was completed yesterday with 69 cameras having been installed in the high-risk areas at a cost of $157,530.00.

Phase Two will involve the purchase of 300 additional cameras at a cost of $308,306.00.

Currently all camera recordings are kept for 30 days; however, in December new servers will allow personnel to store the recordings for 25 months.

Other notable changes inspired by the Merrick Bobb and the OIR recommendations were the banning of steel-toed shoes worn by Sheriff’s Deputies, a revision on the policy of head strikes to include head strikes against fixed objects such as floors, walls or jail bars unless the standard of lethal force has been met, and elimination of heavy flashlights as batons to subdue inmates.

In related news, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ nominations to the Citizen’s Commission on Jail Violence were finalized today. The commission was formed in response to allegations that Sheriff’s Deputies working in the county custody facilities engaged in unnecessary use of force.

First District Supervisor Gloria Molina announced today that the Honorable Justice Carlos R. Moreno has agreed to serve as her appointee.

“Justice Moreno’s breadth of experience, intellect, integrity, and judicial temperament will be a vital and necessary component in the success of the commission’s work of reviewing use of force by deputies in the jails and recommending appropriate corrective action,” Molina said.

Justice Moreno, who will be 63 this November 4, has been a bi-partisan court appointee from Republican Governors George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson as well as Democratic Governor Gray Davis and President Bill Clinton.

Justice Moreno obtained his undergraduate degree from Yale University in 1970 and his Juris Doctorate from Stanford University in 1975.  He began his legal career in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office prosecuting criminal and civil consumer protection cases.

Earlier, 5th District Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich nominated retired Federal Judge Dickran Tevrizian, and 3rd District Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky nominated retired Federal Judge Lourdes G. Baird.

Fourth District Supervisor Don Knabe and 2nd District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas did not announce their appointments.

Nominations to the Citizen’s Commission on Jail Violence must be made today.  Final approval will take place at the November 8,  Board of Supervisors meeting next week.