LAPD watchdog finds police station camera system ‘inadequate’
LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Police station surveillance cameras fail to fully capture footage of “critical” incidents, including a case in which a man died while in custody at the Southwest Station last September, according to a report released today by the Los Angeles Office of the Inspector General.
The lack of video footage also hampered an investigation into a shooting that occurred at the Los Angeles Police Department’s West Traffic Bureau, according to the report, which will be presented to the Police Commission tomorrow. That shooting resulted in the gunman’s death, and left one officer injured.
The two cases prompted the LAPD’s independent watchdog, Inspector General Alexander Bustamante, to conduct a broader audit of camera systems at all 21 stations.
The OIG found the department’s camera system and policies “inadequate,” with many cameras placed in locations that allowed just partial or no view of holding cells. Cameras also did not have “full coverage” of lobbies and other areas “where the public has unrestricted or unescorted access,” the report said.
Some stations also fail to regularly inspect the cameras to see if they are working, with some inoperable cameras discovered only during the OIG’s review or when video footage was being requested, according to the report.
The OIG also said many stations failed to restrict access to camera system workstations and video archives, with login and password information easily accessible in public areas and on commonly used computer networks.
The average 30-day storage of the footage was also a problem, according to the report. Footage was sometimes destroyed before investigations could begin or complaints could be made.
The OIG recommended that cameras be placed in any area in which the arrest process is taking place, such as at arrestee benches, booking stalls and holding cells. The report also suggests that multiple supervisors at each station be trained in how to use the camera system and retrieve video records; and that a policy be put in place to require station personnel to check regularly to see if cameras are working.