Los Angeles police delay implementation of body cameras over cost

The cost of body cameras is preventing the Los Angeles Police Department from equipping them on officers, officials said Saturday.

Mayor Eric Garcetti had vowed to have the cameras on thousands of officers by the end of 2016. But the department doesn’t expect to outfit 7,000 officers until the fall of 2017 at the earliest, the Los Angeles Times reported. The plan is projected to cost $58 million.

Councilman Mitch Englander told the LA Times that he wants the department to start the bidding process over and plans to introduce a formal proposal next week.

“This is too big to get wrong,” said Erlander, who heads the council’s public safety committee. “It’s more important that we get it right and not just do it quickly.”

Steve Soboroff, the Board of Police commissioner and a longtime advocate of the cameras, said city lawmakers are “horribly underestimating the ramifications” of delaying the program for what could be years.

“This is an unequivocal disaster for public safety in Los Angeles,” Soboroff said.

City Hall has been scrutinizing the camera plan over the costs, with one council member saying he was experiencing “sticker shock” over the price tag of $57.6 million over five years.

Technology companies planned that they were unfairly left out of the police department’s selection process, which in part relied on a separate search for body cameras for a much smaller nearby sheriff’s department.

Garcetti said through a spokesman that he hoped the council would act as quickly as possible.

The police department has about 860 cameras, bought through private donations.

Last year, the department negotiated a contract with Scottsdale, Arizona-based Taser International to provide thousands more, as well as replacement equipment, digital storage of the recordings and thousands of Tasers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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