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The LAPD's self-defeating body camera policy

To the editor: Your editorial rightly asks City Council members to take a closer look at the staggering cost of the body camera program that Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti are pushing. You also raise questions about the contract with Taser International, which was not subject to competitive bidding. ("L.A. City Council rightly halted the rapid rollout of police body cameras," editorial, Jan. 1)

Both are important issues, but a third that you do not mention is of far greater consequence: The LAPD's policy on body cameras will surely undermine the goals of transparency, accountability and greater public confidence in police officers.

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There will be no public access to body camera video unless under court order or at the police chief's discretion. The LAPD has already said it will not release video in most cases of officer-involved shootings or alleged misconduct.

Worse, officers will view recordings of questionable incidents before providing initial accounts of what happened. This obvious invitation to lie in order to have one's statement conform to the evidence will hardly enhance the public's confidence.

Peter Laarman, West Hollywood

The writer is coordinator of Justice Not Jails.

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To the editor: I have been an information technology contractor to federal, state and local governments for more than 20 years. The LAPD's and Garcetti's attempt to ram through a 7,000-unit body-camera purchase based on pricing for 30 units in a separate contract is the definition of fiscal irresponsibility.

Competition is the single most equitable method to assure maximum value to taxpayers. In virtually all instances, equipment features or attributes (known as "salient characteristics") identified as necessary or mandatory are available from multiple sources.

I have personally witnessed top-tier brand-name manufacturers slash bid pricing 40% and more on large volume and "high profile" or "high visibility" contract opportunities, and the venerated LAPD certainly qualifies as such.

As for Beck's proposal to have mostly sworn officers process the data deluge, why use valuable uniformed officers for such a task when competing private-sector entities are readily available to do the work?

Jay Jones, Rancho Palos Verdes

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