Report: Nearly 20% of LA cops slow to turn on body cameras during use-of-force incidents

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A report analyzing use-of-force incidents by the Los Angeles Police Department revealed that almost 20 percent of officers involved activated their body-worn camera later than department policy dictated.

The report was conducted by the LAPD Office of the Inspector General and the findings were presented to Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday.

The report analyzed 53 incidents involving 262 officers between June 2019 and July 2020. The incidents included 33 shootings by officers, nine unintentional firearm discharges, six uses of force that hospitalized someone, two head strikes with an impact weapon, one in-custody death, one carotid restraint control hold and another use of deadly force.

According to the report, seven of the 53 reviewed incidents were not captured on video because officers did not activate their cameras. Additionally, 13.9 percent of officers who were supposed to activate their digital-in car video cameras failed to do so.

Body-worn cameras are constantly rolling when powered on, so once activated, the camera also captures two minutes prior to activation. However, 24 percent of the recordings reviewed by the Inspector General had less than a two-minute buffer period. Fifty of the 51 cases involving a reduced buffer video involved officers who initially had their cameras powered off, according to the report.

The police department's policy requires all officers to activate their body-worn cameras before initiating any investigation or enforcement activity involving a civilian, such as traffic and pedestrian stops and calls for service.

In its report, the Office of the Inspector General recommended the police department address compliance by maintaining "a rigorous program of accountability measures," such as conducting random inspections and taking remedial action when officers do not follow policy.

The LAPD arrested an officer Tuesday for allegedly filing a false report when the city attorney’s office noticed the review of video from the officer’s body-worn camera did not match the written report.

Police Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission that the department is addressing with lack of compliance among officers.

"We have instituted added notices, education, reminders and also increased the level of progressive discipline and accountability for those matters," Moore said.

City News Service contributed to this report.