LAPD seeking public input on body camera policies

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As it prepares to issue body cameras to all officers, the Los Angeles Police Department is looking for public input on policies for releasing footage of major incidents.

The department is holding a series of public forums, with the first one tonight, to ask for feedback on if and when video should be released following an officer-involved shooting.

People can also fill out a questionnaire that will be available online or on paper.

The LAPD plans to issue the cameras to all patrol officers by the end of this year.

The department's current policy has been to not release any footage, except when ordered by a court or for use in a trial.

But as body cameras are used more often at agencies across the nation, the department is recognizing the high level of public interest in the footage.

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The LAPD is weighing when to release body camera footage that depicts officer-involved shootings, such as this one in Fresno.

"I think in high-profile incidents we have to recognize that the intense crush of public interest needs an outlet," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

If video is released, the department wants to determine what should be the parameters.

Beck noted there are a series of competing interests over the footage, including civil and criminal liability, the interest of victims and the public's right to know.

"All of these (interests) compete," Beck said. "You have to remember these videos are generally of people on the worst day of their lives. And sometimes the last day of their lives."

In an online video, participants are asked to weigh what is just for everyone.

"We want to have a policy that will work the vast majority of the time," said Matthew Johnson, president of the Los Angeles Police Commission. "That is agnostic to whether it is favorable to the police or not favorable to the police. That should not be a consideration."

The department is holding four public meetings, hoping to collect all its public feedback by May 7 and then decide on a policy by the end of September.

The scheduled meetings are:

Wednesday, March 23, 6:30 p.m.: Van Ness Recreation Center, 5720 2nd Ave., Los Angeles.

Wednesday, April 12, 6:30 p.m.: Seoul Recreation Center, 3250 San Marino St., Los Angeles.

Thursday, April 20, 6:30 p.m.: San Fernando Valley location to be determined.

Saturday, April 22, 2:00 p.m. Central LA location to be determined.
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