Please attribute the following statement to Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal):
We are extremely disappointed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to grant funding to LAPD’s deeply flawed body camera program.Media contact: Sandra Hernandez, 213.977.5247 or email@example.com
The Justice Department announced funding for body camera programs as a means to help increase transparency and build public trust. Yet it has chosen to fund a department with body camera policies that are at odds with those goals and instead maintain secrecy and sow distrust.
LAPD’s body camera program will provide no transparency since the department has made clear it will not release videos of critical incidents like shootings, even where victims or families request it. It will undermine accountability by allowing officers to review video of an incident before speaking to investigators.
And with the department continuing to ask the public to rely on its investigations while refusing to disclose body camera footage that would help show whether that reliance is justified, the program will do little to build public trust.
ACLU SoCal has supported body cameras, so long as police departments adopt strong policies that ensure they are used to promote accountability and transparency. Regrettably, the Justice Department appears more interested in creating the appearance that they are addressing the concern about policing than in ensuring departments adopt body camera programs that might making a meaningful difference to their communities.