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Long Beach City Council approves pilot program to equip more police with body cameras

The program would equip 200 LBPD officers with the cameras.

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Long Beach City Council approves pilot program to equip more police with body cameras

Photo illustration by Jade Inglada

Photo illustration by Jade Inglada

Photo illustration by Jade Inglada

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Following the original pilot program in November 2016, the Long Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to begin a second program to equip Long Beach Police Department officers with body cameras.

The city awarded a one-year contract to technology and weapons tech company, Axon Enterprise Inc. The contract contains both the options to renew the program for three additional six-month periods or to cancel following a review after six months. Two-hundred LBPD officers will receive body cameras under the program.

The original program ran from November 2016-17, in which 40 cameras were issued out to West Division patrol officers. The cameras were still used by the officers following the conclusion of the program.

Although the initial pilot program wasn’t intended to add additional costs to the city, the contract does state that if it is renewed, the program will require three full-time staff members at an estimated full cost of $353,186. If the program were to become permanent, it would require eight positions for an estimated cost of nearly $1 million.

“I think we are past due the time having these body cameras in place,” District 3 Councilwoman, Suzie Price said. “While I understand what has taken us so long to get to this point, I’m disappointed it has taken us this long to get to this point and I really wish there was a way we could do a shorter pilot.”

When Price asked Police Chief Robert Luna what the failures of the first program were, City Attorney Charles Parkin said that the issue should be discussed in private.

Price responded by asking whether Axon could provide the proper technology to meet the needs of the city.

“As we moved forward, we made a lot of demands as a police department and as a city,” Luna said. “Not just for what the police department needed, but we had to be sensitive to the technological needs of the city.”

Luna said the reason the program is a year long is so the city and the police department have time to look at every result, including the technological aspect, the logistical aspect and the potential storage needed for the cameras.

“We’re asking Axon to come in with a plan,” Luna said. “We do have some challenges historically in regards to our outdated technology, from a city’s perspective.”

Luna acknowledged that the program could be shortened, but the time going into the program is vital for the city.

When I come back to this council, I think my job is to provide you with every answer that any of you may have regarding every box that I need to check to make sure that we are making a very wise investment because this is expensive,” Luna said. “I think it’s a necessary tool, but it’s going to take a significant budget enhancement for us to make this happen.”

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