An inspection by Los Angeles Police Department investigators found that police officers tampered with voice recording equipment in dozens of patrol cars in an effort to avoid being monitored while on duty, according to an article recently published in the LA Times.
“The cameras, which turn on automatically whenever an officer activates the car’s emergency lights and sirens or can be activated manually, are used to record traffic stops and other encounters that occur in front of the vehicle. Officers also wear small transmitters on their belts that relay their voices back to the antennas in the patrol car. Most of the antennas were removed from cars in the Southeast Division, which covers Watts, Jordan Downs and Nickerson Gardens, where relations between police and minority communities have historically been marred by mistrust and claims of officer abuse. The in-car video cameras have been touted as a powerful deterrent to police misconduct and a tool for defending officers against false accusations.”
As a result of the investigation, new rules were put in place requiring officers to document that both antennas were in place at the beginning and end of each shift. To guard against officers removing the antennas during their shifts, patrol supervisors are required to make unannounced checks on cars.