Police Brutality Concerns Renew Calls for Cameras on Officers

"I am simply not willing to gamble with a single life, or the wrongful accusation of officers," one SoCal mayor says

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A police lapel camera.

    As national attention turns to officer-involved shootings and accusations of police brutality, one Southern California mayor is pushing for his city and others to outfit officers with lapel cameras.

    Hawthorne Mayor Chris Brown in an announcement Aug. 15 called for his city and other legislative leaders to "take immediate action."

    "In light of recent events, it is clear the safety of our civilians and uniformed officers is not guaranteed," the statement read. "All life has infinite value and cannot be risked."

    The events in question involve the fatal shooting by an officer of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri -- a death that has sparked protests and chaos as National Guard troops were called in by the governor to help.

    Days after the shooting in Ferguson, gang enforcement officers shot a 25-year-old unarmed black man, Ezell Ford, in South Los Angeles after stopping him for questioning. That shooting also prompted rallies and protests that demanded an urgent and transparent investigation into the shooting death.

    "I am simply not willing to gamble with a single life, or the wrongful accusation of officers," Brown said in the statement.

    Brown included plans to introduce an ordinance "mandating all uniformed personnel wear cameras on their uniforms."

    Small enough to be worn on an officer's lapel, the so-called "cop cams" are not new.

    A year-long test in the city of Rialto concluded the cameras had a major beneficial impact and dramatically reduced complaints against officers and police use of force.

    The Los Angeles Police Department began testing them in its Central Division earlier this year and plans to equip several hundred more officers by the end of 2014. The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department also plans to begin testing the cameras in September.

    "It holds everyone accountable for what their actions are," Lawndale resident Kylea Tigner said.

    On Monday, Hawthorne police declined to comment on the proposal, as did Brown himself. An office aide promised a comment on Tuesday.

    "Beyond what's in the mayor's letter, all information is going to be shared tomorrow," spokesman Alex Gurfinkel said.

    Brown's measure was expected to be introduced at the city's next council meeting Aug. 26.

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