Audit finds gaps in LAPD security camera system

An audit by the Office of the Inspector General found the Los Angeles Police Department’s station security camera system “inadequate,” failing to capture or retain important information about events that needed reviewing by department watchdogs. In a report scheduled for review by the L.A. Police Commission, the OIG found various issues with the security cameras LAPD keeps in its police stations and lockups–including missing footage, poor coverage areas, broken cameras, and inadequate policies on archiving and accessing footage.

When auditors reviewed cameras in the department’s 21 stations, they found the issues systemic. Some stations had no cameras at all, while others had only ones that didn’t function. Those that did have cameras typically only kept footage for 30 days–not enough time, the OIG said.

In one reviewed case, a gunman entered a police station and began shooting. In another, a man in an LAPD holding cell suffered a medical emergency and later died in police custody. “In each of these cases, the Department and the OIG attempted to obtain all relevant information and evidence to assess these incidents,” the report said. “In both cases, the video evidence only captured portions of the events.”

“One area of concern for the OIG is the ability of the Department to retrieve and secure video evidence in the event of a critical incident — such as an officer-involved shooting, in-custody death, serious use of force — or where a complaint of misconduct has been made,” the report said. In response, LAPD said it agrees with the OIG’s assessment and has assembled a working group to review the identified flaws and come up with a budget for improving the camera system.

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