ACLU asks DOJ to withhold funds for LAPD body cams

The ACLU told the Justice Department that the LAPD's body camera policy falls short and does not meet the criteria to receive grant money.
The ACLU told the Justice Department that the LAPD's body camera policy falls short and does not meet the criteria to receive grant money.

If the Department of Justice heeds a Thursday request from the ACLU of Southern California, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) won't receive grant money for body cameras because, the ACLU contended, the LAPD's policy for camera use among other things, “does not promote—and in fact undermines—the goals of transparency, accountability and creation of public trust that body cameras should serve.”

The civil rights organization, which has long voiced support for body cameras provided they are properly used, penned a letter to the Justice Department noting that “the body camera program implemented by LAPD's policy is very different from the kind of program contemplated by the DOJ,” according to a blog post. Following President Obama's announcement that the U.S. would put $75 million toward body cameras for police, the Justice Department said funding would be contingent on good policies, and requiring applicants to “demonstrate a commitment and adherence to a strong BWC (Body Warn Camera) Policy Framework.”

The ACLU wrote that the LAPD policy doesn't meet that criteria and instead clouds transparency and “threatens to taint the integrity of investigations” because it withholds video from the public and requires “officers to review video before making statements in use of force and misconduct investigations.” The policy also fails “to include protections against the use of body cameras as general surveillance tools.”

The organization urged the Justice Department not to let its “first major grant” under this program “fund a program that fails to promote transparency and that allow officers to use body cameras footage in ways that undermine the integrity of investigations into police misconduct and use of force.”

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