Long Beach Police May Get Body Cameras

Advocates hope to have officers wearing the devices by the end of the year.

Body-worn police cameras are changing the way the public sees police officers doing their jobs, and now Long Beach wants to bring the practice to their city.

Advocates point to Rialto, a SoCal city that has been at the forefront of police-worn body cameras and seen dramatic drops in police complaints.

“It's definitely going to create change in the way that policing is done,” Commander Paul LeBaron of the Long Beach Police Department said.

LeBaron is leading the effort in Long Beach and hopes that by the end of the year, the city’s officers could be patrolling the streets with one of these.

The department has been under heavy scrutiny for its number of officer-involved shootings.
There were 15 in 2013 and six last year, including the one that killed an unarmed man named Jason Conoscenti.

“I can't believe he's gone,” said Nona Opsitpnick, Conoscenti’s aunt.

His family said after his killing that cell phone video clearly showed Conoscenti wasn't armed.

“When he was on the ground they should have gotten him,” Opsitpnick said. “There was a dog right there, too. Why didn't the dog get him?”

A body camera could have answered that question. It could have also captured another perspective.

Police have said repeatedly this widely circulated cell phone video was not at all the same angle officers had.

“One camera, one clip doesn't tell the whole story,” LeBaron said. “(When) an officer knows they are being recorded they will make sure they perform as professional as possible at all times.

“On the other side, the community member most of the time will realize they're being recorded and their interaction will be different,” he said.

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