Riverside County Sheriff Moves to Encrypted Radio System

Riverside Sheriff RadioOn Sunday, January 5th, Riverside County rolled out its much-anticipated and long-delayed public safety radio system that officials say will stretch the signal’s reach and streamline communication between agencies during major emergencies.

The system, known as Public Safety Enterprise Communication (PSEC) is a P25 Phase II system and all communications are encrypted.  The new system cost $172 million to build and will require $16 million annually to operate, county spokesman Ray Smith said Monday, Jan. 6.

The previous radio system (an EDACS analog system) had been in use since 1992, and it didn’t keep up with the county’s growing population and the Sheriff’s Department’s needs.

Riverside County supervisors approved the new system in 2005, and Motorola was awarded a $148 million contract in 2007. The system was scheduled to go online in 2010, but environmental reviews and negotiations for land pushed that date back to the first three months of 2013. And then, problems with the speed and clarity of transmissions delayed the rollout further, announced as the first quarter of 2014 and made official Sunday, Jan. 5. Along the way, the price tag increased.

The new system is P25 and is encrypted. That means only those with department-issued radios will be able to hear conversations between dispatchers and deputies.  No scanners will be able to decode communications on the system.

The scrambled signal should frustrate criminals with smartphone scanner applications who want to learn whether deputies are on their way.

“It is important for the operational safety of the first responders,” Riverside County sheriff’s Lt. Eric Briddick said in a January 2013 interview about the system.

But the encryption also shuts out residents with police radios who want to know immediately what’s going on in their neighborhoods. Scanner enthusiasts had noted dead air Sunday in social media conversations.

The Sheriff’s Department issued a news release Monday about the switchover. That news release can be found here. Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Albert Martinez referred questions about the system to the county department handling the radio system. A person there took the questions and said she would try to get answers. Those answers did not come Monday.

Among the questions is whether the county was successful in persuading other public-safety agencies to be part of the new system. That would make it easier for police and firefighters in various jurisdictions to communicate during large-scale emergencies and help defray the cost of the system.

In addition to the county sheriff and fire departments, 11 cities have their own police departments, and seven have fire departments.

Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins said Monday that as far as he knows, among Riverside County firefighting agencies, only the county Fire Department is integrated into the new system. Even then, the county Fire Department is using the system mostly for communication by computer, he said. Dispatchers are using a different system for voice broadcasts.

The sheriff’s news release also did not answer whether the system will completely eliminate dead zones — particularly in the desert — that prompted some deputies to use cellphones instead of their car radios to communicate. The county previously had about 20 radio towers for 7,200 square miles. The news release Monday said the new system now has 75.

Source: http://blog.pe.com

 

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L.A. Fire Department Dramatically Overhauls Response to Shootings

New Firefighter TacticsLos Angeles fire officials are dramatically changing how rescuers respond to mass shootings after a gunman with a high-powered rifle mortally wounded a federal security officer in a shooting rampage last month at LAX.

The new goal is to have Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics and firefighters, protected by armed law enforcement teams, rapidly enter potentially dangerous areas during active shooting incidents to treat victims and get them en route to hospital trauma centers.

“The LAX incident really was a paradigm shift for us,” said Fire Department Medical Director Marc Eckstein, an emergency room physician and proponent of the more aggressive approach to rendering medical aid. “There are people whose lives may depend on us getting them out of there quickly.”

Tactical changes had been under consideration but were accelerated and disseminated through the ranks after the Nov. 1 shooting of Gerardo I. Hernandez, the first Transportation Security Administration officer killed in the line of duty.

That morning when rescuers arrived at Los Angeles International Airport, they set up a safe distance away and waited 15 minutes before they were told that Hernandez was lying by an escalator near the entrance of Terminal 3, according to interviews and dispatch logs obtained by The Times.

Police moved Hernandez to paramedics using a wheelchair, and he was taken to a Carson-area trauma hospital, where he was declared dead.

A coroner’s autopsy report found 12 bullets had ripped through the 39-year-old officer’s heart and other organs, and Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck has said no rescue effort could have saved him.

Hernandez’s death added new urgency to overhauling the Fire Department’s response to shooting rampages in which gunmen haven’t been apprehended.

With the changes, the department joins a growing number of fire agencies that are borrowing battlefield tactics of military medics to improve the odds of saving victims.

More than 250 people have died nationwide in mass shootings since 1999, federal officials note, including attacks last year on moviegoers at a Colorado theater and students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The new imperative, experts say, is to reach those with life-threatening wounds quickly, stem their bleeding and get them to trauma centers as fast as possible.

“They need a surgeon,” said Battalion Chief Jeff Adams of the Orange County Fire Authority, which has rewritten procedures and retrained hundreds of rescuers in revised emergency response tactics being championed by the Obama administration.

Recommendations issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in September call for fire department medics, working with police, to enter “warm zones” — areas near active shooters where a threat might exist — before the attackers have been fully contained.

Frontline rescuers in communities of every size need to be prepared, said U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell Jr. “This can happen anywhere, any time. We don’t want to wait until after the fact and say what we would have done.”

Traditionally at shooting scenes, fire department rescuers have been held back in safe “cold” zones, awaiting orders to go to victims from law enforcement officers clearing “hot” areas where gunmen are active. Hot and warm zones are dynamic, experts say, and can change depending on the movements of the shooter.

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San Bernardino County to get New Radio System – for $158 Million

San Bernardino County Sheriff SUVAfter six years, San Bernardino County is finally on its way to overhauling its antiquated public safety radio system, and will be getting a state-of-the-art digital system at a cost of more than $158 million.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday entered into agreements with Motorola Solutions and Aviat U.S. and authorized contract expenditures of $123.3 million to get the project off the ground.

The county has been trying to overhaul its radio system since 2007, but funds became squeezed after the collapse of the housing market in 2008 and stalled the project, county spokesman David Wert said.

For years, the county has used a vintage analog radio system. When repairs are needed, it has had to resort to trolling eBay in search for replacement parts, said Jennifer Hilber, chief information officer for the county’s Information Services Department.

The new Motorola Project 25 digital system will provide the county with stable and reliable digital communications, improved voice clarity and signal strength, and enhanced security features.

Sheriff John McMahon touted the system’s automatic roaming and GPS capabilities.

“The stability and reliability of this system is critical to us,” McMahon told the board on Tuesday. He said the P25 radio system is already being used by San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties, three of six counties comprising the Office of Emergency Services (OES) Region 6 area. The other counties are San Bernardino, Inyo and Mono.

Nearly every public safety agency within San Bernardino County pushed for the radio system’s overhaul, warning that a system crash was imminent.

“The bottom line is the system is going to fail. It’s not if, but when,” Hilber told the board.

The county’s Architecture and Engineering Department has already budgeted $59 million in start-up money for the project, and the county will set aside $20 million a year over the next five years to fully fund the project.

Source: http://www.sbsun.com

Photo Courtesy San Bernardino County Sheriff

 

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SCMA Tour of KCBS/KCAL TV News

scma-tour-groupOn Saturday, December 7, 2013, members of the SCMA were invited to tour the news operation of television stations KCBS/KCAL at the CBS television facility in Studio City.

KCBS/KCAL News Assignment Manager Mark Liu acted as our “tour guide” and did an outstanding job.  Mark spent about 2-1/2 hours showing us everything it takes to put on the news shows on KCBS Channel 2 and KCAL Channel 9.  During the time he answered numerous questions and allowed us to visit every aspect of the operation and talk with the technical, production, and on-air talent.  Everyone was very generous with their time and they were interested in our group and what we do with our crazy scanning hobby.

Thank you, Mark, for a great tour!

A big thanks to SCMA Member Wayne Smith, N6LHV, LA-149, who set up and coordinated the tour.

Check out photos of the Tour here.

If you have photos from this tour, please give or email them to Rich Sauer, LA-104, at socalscanner@gmail.com and they will be added to the photo gallery.

 

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Uniden Announces Two New Scanners

On Saturday, November 16, Uniden announced two new flagship scanners – a hand held and a mobile – along with a companion app that will allow you to listen and control the mobile scanner with a computer/tablet/smart phone via the Internet/WiFi.  Both will do P25 Phase 1 and 2 digital, be front panel programmable as well load frequencies by Zip Code, have an SD card slot for recording audio and much more.

The hand held scanner will have a suggested retail price of $499 and the mobile will be $599.  Both models will be available in January, 2014.

More information (videos, user’s manual, software download, etc.) can be found at http://info.uniden.com/NewScanners

Lindsay Blanton of Radioreference.com upload a video of the BCD536HP in action here.

BCD436HP
BCD436HP

The BCD436HP is the first scanner to incorporate the HomePatrol-1′s ease of use in a traditional handheld scanner. Simply enter your zip code, and the BCD436HP will quickly select and scan channels in your local area. Here is a quick rundown of the BCD436HP’s major features.

  • 4 Gigabyte microSD card holds the entire USA and Canada database of radio systems, plus leaves room for hundreds of hours of audio recording.
  • Programmable Alert LED lets you set a specific color to alert you when a channel becomes active.
  • TrunkTracker V with support for APCO Project 25 Phase I and Phase II, X2-TDMA, Motorola, EDACS, and LTR Trunked Radio Systems
  • Quick Key access to 100 Favorites Lists, 100 Systems per Favorites List, and 100 Departments per System.
  • Discovery Modes help you find new channels on trunked systems and frequency ranges.
  • Analysis Modes include Band Scope, RF Power Plot, Trunked System Analysis, and EDACS/LTR LCN Finder.
  • Flexible Easy Channel Selection using Zip Code or GPS and Service Types — just pick the kinds of channels you want to hear and tell the BCD436HP where you are and let it do the rest.
  • Easy Scan Control using the dedicated System, Department and Channel Hold buttons.
  • Complete Front-Panel Programmability — create custom Favorites Lists either using systems from the main database as a starting point or program your systems from scratch.
  • Temporary Avoid lets you quickly silence unwanted systems, departments, or channels while allowing you to restore them by cycling power.
  • Backlight-on-Squelch option allows the backlight to remain on during an entire transmission.
  • Date/Time indication on display with time stamping for recordings.
  • Trunked and Conventional Channel Priority with Priority Do-Not-Disturb
  • Close Call® RF Capture with Do-Not-Disturb automatically tunes the scanner to nearby transmissions without interrupting reception in progress.
  • NOAA Weather Alert with SAME
  • Two-Tone Paging with up to 32 tone slots
  • Flexible Scanning — scan from any combination of the main database and Favorites Lists
  • Included Sentinel Software makes database and firmware updates simple. Also allows you to create, edit, and manage your Favorites Lists.
  • USB PC Connectivity – Serial GPS input for location-based scanning using the Uniden GC-GPSK or other compatible GPS receiver.
  • 3 AA Battery Operation provides up to 8 hours of operation.
  • SMA-type antenna.
  • 192 x 160-Pixel Dot-Matrix Display
  • Select/Volume/Squelch multi-control
  • Side-actuated Function and Menu controls
  • Backlit Display and Keypad
  • Rotating Belt Clip
  • Rugged construction with Rubber Side and Bottom Impact areas to improve impact resistance.
  • Printed manual in the box with online updates.

BCD546HP

BCD536HPTheBCD536HP is Uniden’s new flagship mobile scanner…which incorporates two firsts. Like the BCD436HP, it is the first standard mobile scanner to include the ease of use of the HomePatrol-style database; simply enter your zip code and away you go. But, the BCD536HP adds to that WiFi connectivity, allowing you to listen to and control your scanner using your smartphone or tablet…from anywhere in your home, vehicle, or around the world.

  • 4 Gigabyte microSD card holds the entire USA and Canada database of radio systems, plus leaves room for hundreds of hours of audio recording.
  • Programmable Alert LED lets you set a specific color to alert you when a channel becomes active.
  • TrunkTracker V with support for APCO Project 25 Phase I and Phase II, X2-TDMA, Motorola, EDACS, and LTR Trunked Radio Systems
  • Quick Key access to 100 Favorites Lists, 100 Systems per Favorites List, and 100 Departments per System.
  • Discovery Modes help you find new channels on trunked systems and frequency ranges.
  • Analysis Modes include Band Scope, RF Power Plot, Trunked System Analysis, and EDACS/LTR LCN Finder.
  • Flexible Easy Channel Selection using Zip Code or GPS and Service Types — just pick the kinds of channels you want to hear and tell the BCD536HP where you are and let it do the rest.
  • Easy Scan Control using the dedicated System, Department and Channel Hold buttons.
  • Complete Front-Panel Programmability — create custom Favorites Lists either using systems from the main database as a starting point or program your systems from scratch.
  • Temporary Avoid lets you quickly silence unwanted systems, departments, or channels while allowing you to restore them by cycling power.
  • Backlight-on-Squelch option allows the backlight to remain on during an entire transmission.
  • Date/Time indication on display with time stamping for recordings.
  • Trunked and Conventional Channel Priority with Priority Do-Not-Disturb
  • Close Call® RF Capture with Do-Not-Disturb automatically tunes the scanner to nearby transmissions without interrupting reception in progress.
  • NOAA Weather Alert with SAME
  • Two-Tone Paging with up to 32 tone slots
  • Flexible Scanning — scan from any combination of the main database and Favorites Lists
  • Included Sentinel Software makes database and firmware updates simple. Also allows you to create, edit, and manage your Favorites Lists.
  • USB PC Connectivity
  • Serial GPS input for location-based scanning useing the Uniden GC-GPSK or other compatible GPS receiver.
  • 64 x 288-Pixel Dot-Matrix Display
  • Backlit Display and Keypad
  • Printed manual in the box with online updates.

 Siren App

Uniden’s Siren App is the first-ever app that allows you to directly control and listen to your scanner. Connect the BCD536HP in infrastructure mode to your home’s wireless access point and access it using your smartphone or tablet from anywhere in your house…or anywhere in the world where you have an internet connection.

Or, set the BCD536HP to operate as an access point, and use your smartphone or tablet as a remote head, even when you are away from other internet connections.

The Uniden Siren app gives you freedom like never before to roam around your house or around the country, while still keeping completely in touch with and in control of your scanner. We are still working on this exciting development, so stay tuned for more information before product release.

 

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SCMA Members Featured on Radio Show

ScannerOn Tuesday, October 22nd, KPPC 89.3 Airtalk interviewed SCMA Members Alex Thompson (LA-168) of @Venice311 and Andrew Blankstein (LA-183) of NBC News about their years of listening to police scanners, what they’ve learned and the insight that comes when you listen in on the cops.

Listen to the show (17 minutes) here:

http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2013/10/22/34291/learning-about-the-underbelly-of-los-angeles-throu/

From the KPPC Web Site:

There’s a lot that listening to the police scanner can tell you about your city. In Los Angeles, the scanner has been monitored by the anonymous Twitter feed “@LA Scanner” since 1988, and he recently published a list of observations that give an interesting perspective on L.A.

They include:

  1. Nothing good ever happens at a pay phone. (Fact: There are still pay phones.)
  2. Not everyone who goes shirtless after dark is a criminal, but it’s pretty close to everyone.
  3. If you happen to find yourself being pursued by the cops, until the LAPD helicopter arrives overhead, you have a slim fighting chance. Once it arrives, game over.
  4. In Beverly Hills, no crime is too small.
  5. Place after dark you feel most likely to be killed and buried in some gruesome fashion but you are probably actually perfectly safe: Griffith Park.
  6. Place after dark you feel most likely to be killed and buried in some gruesome fashion and you probably will be: Angeles National Forest.
  7. LAX baggage claims and ticketing counters are magnets for medical emergencies.

Airtalk hosts a conversation with Alex Thompson of @Venice311 and Andrew Blankstein of NBC News about their years of listening to police scanners, what they’ve learned and the insight that comes when you listen in on the cops.

Are you a scanner junkie?

Guests:
Alex Thompson, publisher and editor of Venice311.org

Andrew Blankstein, Investigative Reporter for NBC News

 

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LAPD Will Add More Dash Cams to Cruisers

LAPD Dash CameraThe Los Angeles Police Commission Tuesday approved a nearly $8 million contract to place 381 dashboard cameras in police cruisers in LAPD’s Operations-Central Bureau, which would more than double the number of cars currently outfitted with the technology.

The additional cameras will take approximately 12 months to put in place once the contract is approved by the City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti, and commission members urged the department’s commanding officer for the Information Technology Bureau to continue to push for timely backing at City Hall.

“I’ve already asked that the next reports be prepared. I’ve been pushing even before the approval,” chief information officer Maggie Goodrich told the commission.

The department’s Southwest Area was the first to get the cameras in 2010.

Goodrich told the commission that outfitting the rest of the city, including the Valley Bureau, would cost about $20 million, but that funding is not immediately available.

Still, the commission was enthusiastic about the contract with El Segundo-based Raytheon Co., which fits into its plans to add more eyes on officer interactions with members of the community.

The in-car technology uses two mounted cameras. One wide-angle camera is mounted in the front of the car, and another fish-eye angle lens is mounted to observe the rear cabin of the car. Video clips are uploaded and stored for later review, and can be tracked through software created by Texas-based COBAN Technologies, which also provides the camera hardware.

The department’s first contract, for the Southwest Area cameras, was with IBM. While IBM has been replaced by Raytheon in the new round, COBAN was the subcontractor that provided most of the hardware and software for the project.

“We provide a turnkey solution that combines both the hardware and the software,” said David Hinojosa, senior vice president of marketing and business development for COBAN. “So with the evidence-management software, even if we have newer versions of the hardware, it will all still work.”

That means there won’t need to be costly upgrades to Southwest area’s cameras or the back-end system to keep the video management — useful in investigations and prosecutions — intact throughout the department.

“When there are upgrades to the software, it will be the same throughout the department, even if they add more cameras later,” Hinojosa said.

The lengthy process of adding the dashboard cameras has drawn criticism, but there has been a new push for both the in-car video recorders and body-mounted cameras for officers to wear under both Chief Charlie Beck and newly appointed commission President Steve Soboroff.

Soboroff said last month he hopes to have body-mounted cameras in use by about 1,500 officers next year, and he plans to use private money to purchase them. He has also supported the additional dashboard cameras.

Source: http://www.dailynews.com

 

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LAPD Testing Electric Motorcycles

LAPD Police Electric MotocycleThey’re quiet, lightweight and eco-friendly. Never words used to describe a police cruiser — or even the Los Angeles Police Department’s fleet of Harley-Davidson and BMW motorcycles.

But the LAPD is now testing two versions of electric motorcycles that are all three of the above. Specially equipped for law enforcement use, both can be charged for as little as $1 a day.

Last month, Chief Charlie Beck rode in on one of the new bad boys — the Empulse LE, manufactured by Brammo Inc. of Ashland, Ore. — at an event at the Los Angeles Police Museum.

“Chief Beck has already asked me to look at new types of vehicles that could be green and could be of use in our fleet in the future,” said Sgt. Dan Gomez, who heads the department’s Tactical Technology division. “These are not to replace, but rather augment, the existing fleet.”

Currently, Gomez’s team has two bikes to test: the Empulse and a similar one made by Santa Cruz-based Zero Motorcycles Inc.

“We’re taking it through its paces,” Gomez said of the bikes’ technology. “We want to make sure we understand all of it, and we have to verify the technical aspects of the motorcycles.”

The Brammo can run up to 120 miles on a single charge under optimum conditions, but on the low end, it’s down to just 56 miles.

“It’s dependent on the weight, if the driver is a heavy accelerator — all the same things that affect traditional gas-powered vehicles’ mileage,” said Greg Lemhouse, director of global fleet development for Brammo. “But if the motorcycle is sitting still, doing a traffic surveillance, that type of thing, it will get higher mileage.”

When the battery needs a charge, it can be plugged into a regular 120-volt wall outlet, although that may take several hours. The time would be brought down to one hour at a commercial charging station.

Saddlebags for an officer’s gear might further weigh down the motorcycles, decreasing the mileage between charges.

Lemhouse said several law enforcement agencies have tested the Brammo, and the Hawthorne Police Department is using two of the company’s earlier model, the Inertia.

The bikes come with steep price tags — the Brammo retails for $24,995, and details were unavailable for the Zero — but Lemhouse notes that unlike a traditional motorcycle, the up-front expense is the bulk of the outlay for the life of the bike.

“That cost is really all you’re going to have,” he said. “There are no gas costs. The maintenance costs are lower because you don’t have to do the same level of maintenance as on a traditional motor. The savings will far outpace the initial cost very quickly.”

For now, though, a fleet of green, quiet motorcycles is still quite a ways off.

Gomez says the department will test other electric models before it cements any deal.

“We don’t have a time frame right now,” he said. “But you may start to see officers riding on some during road testing. If we can find a place in the field for these, then we’d have steps to move forward — including getting it approved and finding funding. But certainly, we’re very excited about it.”

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

 

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Beverly Hills Police Service Day & Pancake Breakfast – Sunday, September 22nd

BHPH Service Day PosterPlease Join the Beverly Hills Police Officers Association’s Police Service Day & Pancake Breakfast. We will be serving hot pancakes, coffee, juice from 8:00 AM – Noon.

Event Highlights:
-Police Department Station Tours (Jail, police cars, dispatch center, range)
-SWAT vehicles / equipment
-Interactive displays
-Face painting

The event will be held at the Civic Center Plaza, between the library and police station.

Hope to see you there!

Address/Location
Beverly Hills Police Department
464 N. Rexford Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Contact
Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 310-550-4951

Sergeant George Demarois
Community Relations
bhpdinfo@beverlyhills.org
310-285-2668

 

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LAPD May Soon Test Body Cameras

LAPD Body Camera

The Axon Flex is pictured attached to a pair of Oakley sunglasses, but can be worn virtually anywhere and is attached using magnets. (Photo Courtesy Taser International Inc.)

Many police departments around the country have been using body-mounted cameras to record their interactions with the community, and with a new push from the City Council and Police Commission, the Los Angeles Police Department may soon be testing the technology aimed at reducing the number of officer-involved complaints and lawsuits.

The idea for the small body-mounted cameras was thrust to the forefront last week when Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff announced he was raising private funding pay for the items, and City Councilman Mitch Englander said the first cameras for testing might be available as early as next week.

“What we’re looking at is an enhancement to the technology that is already out there with the dash cameras in the black-and-whites,” Englander said in an interview. “More is better in this case. We’re paying out tens of millions of dollars in lawsuits, and these cameras have been shown to lower that amount in other departments. There’s a new energy around this technology, and we want to move forward with it.”

One recent study in Rialto showed an 80 percent drop in the number of complaints against officers during a year-long pilot program, as well as a reduction in use-of-force incidents from 60 to just 25 year over year.

Two weeks ago, Soboroff had said the goal was to have cameras on all officers within the next 18 months, but last week he revised that time frame to one year.

“A couple of things went into that,” Soboroff said in an interview. “(Police Chief Charlie Beck) thinks the results will be so apparent once these things are up and running that the testing period doesn’t need to be that long. We thought it would take six months after we got them to test them — now it’s at three months.”

While he cautioned that the department still has to establish procedures for use of the cameras, including what divisions will test the technology and standards for privacy concerns when officers enter residences, he said the goal is still to move quickly on implementation.

The current plan is to acquire 25 cameras on loan from a manufacturer. Those will be worn in the field for 90 days, and then the department will report back to the City Council’s Public Safety Commission. By then, Soboroff hopes to have raised the money necessary to purchase the hardware, warranties and cloud storage space for the massive amount of data the cameras record.

Funding has consistently been a hang-up in adding the once much touted dashboard cameras to patrol cars, and a similar challenge faces body-camera proposals, even though Chief Beck has voiced his enthusiastic support for both.

Currently, about a fifth of the fleet’s vehicle have in-car cameras, but Beck said last week the department is moving forward with plans for more, on a separate track from the push for body cameras.

To sidestep money concerns over body cameras, Soboroff has taken his pitch private, securing pledges from some high-profile Angelenos, including $250,000 from media mogul Casey Wasserman and an undisclosed amount from DreamWorks co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

“The goal is for the city to have no financial impact at all,” Soboroff said. “That includes warranties, maintenance, downloading and (data) storage … I have people calling me every day.”

The total cost to acquire 500 of the cameras Englander and Soboroff have been eyeing is about $1 million, including warranties that cover upgrades as technology advances, several years of data storage and monitoring and maintenance. Because those 500 will rotate among officers at shift changes, up to 1,500 officers will be able to use them.

The eventual goal is to equip all on-shift officers with the devices. Englander points out that many have already outfitted themselves with cameras or other recording devices at their own expense.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents the majority of sworn officers, has not yet taken a position on the cameras.

The most popular manufacturer is an Arizona-headquartered company, Taser International Inc., which supplied the LAPD with its brand of stun guns and is providing the cameras for the initial testing period.

The company makes two versions of the cameras: the Axon Body, a rectangular device that mounts to an officer’s shirt pocket and costs about $299; and the Axon Flex, which runs between $700 and $800 and can be mounted on hats, collars, belts or specially designed Oakley sunglasses using a magnetic attachment, as well as on the dashboard of a patrol car to act as a dash cam.

Currently, dozens of U.S. police departments have incorporated the cameras — including Greensboro, N.C., Topeka, Kansas, and Houston — and have made public their drop in complaints against officers.

“Last month, there was an officer-involved shooting in Topeka, and the District Attorney and the police chief were able to watch the video of the incident at the same time,” said Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Taser International. “Now, I don’t know the outcome of the case, but I know that they’ve tripled their purchase (of cameras) since that time. There’s a reason for that.”

Tuttle points out that the Axon Flex can be used as a replacement for dash cams with a mount similar to a GPS stand that affixes to the dashboard of a vehicle. In the case of motorcycle officers, the on-body camera becomes the default dash cam and records both audio and video.

“We’ve had officers out there going 100 mph, and the camera stays affixed,” he said.

Once the camera is turned on, it is always recording video but captures audio only when a police officer turns on that feature.

Despite the manufacturer’s indication that body cams are able to supplant dash cams, locals involved say they want to move forward with adding both to the LAPD’s equipment arsenal.

“There are so many benefits to having these,” said Councilman Englander. “You can bluetooth link the body cameras to your smart phone, which would allow officers to roll up to a scene with an operational perspective. They can use it when they are going around a corner or up into an attic. Instead of putting their head up in the attic and getting it shot at, they can put the camera up there. But we still want the perspective of both the officer and the suspect when you’re in the car. You want to have as many perspectives as possible, and this technology makes that possible.”

Source: http://www.dailybreeze.com

 

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