To the editor: The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California's rejection of the
Body cameras are evidence-gathering tools, just like the audio recorders and dashboard cameras already in use. The use of body camera images to assist officers in writing incident reports is no different than what commonly occurs today with those other tools.
An incident report must be the best possible recitation of what happened. Denying officers the chance to review the images would lead to disparities between the video and the police accounts, likely prompting organizations like the ACLU to accuse the police of "dishonesty."
The use of recording tools has correlated with fewer proven complaints about officer conduct — likely because the complaints were found groundless thanks to the recordings.
Mike Post, Winnetka
To the editor: I applaud the Los Angeles Police Commission's approval of the new policy to require body cameras for all patrol officers, but I deplore its decision to allow officers to view the videos before preparing their written report of an incident.
The purpose of the video is to record fact, not perception, and that record will be there regardless of when it is viewed; it will support or refute the claims of officers or other involved parties. Officers take action based on their perception of what they see and hear, not on a camera's recording of what actually happened, and it's critical to learn what the officer's perception of the event was.
Allowing officers to view the videos in advance of preparing their report jeopardizes that vital information.
Martin K. Zimmerman, Los Angeles