LOCAL L.A. Now

LAPD surpasses fundraising goal for officers' on-body cameras

An unusual fundraising campaign by the Los Angeles Police Department meant to purchase small video cameras that officers would wear on their uniforms has exceeded its goal of collecting $1 million from private donors.

Police Commission President Steve Soboroff, who launched the fundraising push when Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed him to his post in September, said 22 individuals and companies gave slightly more than $1.2 million to the camera project.

With the money, the LAPD has enough funds to buy about 600 cameras and to pay for video storage capabilities, repairs and other related costs over about two years, Soboroff said.

As a preliminary step, volunteer cops will spend a few months testing hardware lent to the department by two companies that produce on-body cameras for law enforcement, Taser International and Coban Technologies.

After that, the department will make a decision about which model it prefers and buy as many as it can with the money Soboroff collected.

Police officials have estimated the department will need several hundred more cameras if it wants every patrol officer working on a particular shift to have one. Soboroff said he hoped that elected city officials, after seeing the initial lot of cameras in use for a few years, would be convinced of their worth and include the cost of additional cameras in the LAPD's budget.

Having an audio and video record of traffic stops, shootings and other encounters is seen as a potentially valuable and cost-saving tool in guarding against officer misconduct and clearing officers when they are falsely accused of wrongdoing.

The speed with which Soboroff managed to raise the money and the department's relatively short time line for getting the cameras onto officers' uniforms stand in sharp contrast to the slow pace such projects typically take when done through the city's traditional bureaucratic channels.

Soboroff, however, has said the cameras were a one-time endeavor and he does not plan to raise funds for other items on the LAPD's wish list.

In a letter thanking donors, Soboroff, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and City Councilman Mitch Englander called the contributions "a historic and transformative opportunity for the LAPD." 

The list of contributors included some well known names, including entertainment heavyweights Steven Spielberg and Phil Anschutz. The Dodgers baseball organization also gave. Many others were unknown, if wealthy, business executives and companies, such as Arthur Coppola, chief executive of Macerich, which owns shopping malls in the western U.S.

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Twitter: @joelrubin

joel.rubin@latimes.com

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