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Garcetti pushes City Council on body cameras

LOS ANGELES — Responding to a plan that he said could delay by at least another year his initiative to equip all Los Angeles police officers with body cameras, Mayor Eric Garcetti called on the City Council last week to move ahead with an existing $31 million contract negotiated with Taser for the purchase of the body cameras.

The Los Angeles City Council last year put the contract on hold, after some members expressed surprise at additional costs for about 122 employees — mostly sworn — who would be hired to operate the body camera program.

With those and other additional costs, the contract, which also includes the purchase of about 4,400 stun guns, is expected to cost the department a total of $57 million over its five-year term.

The issue was expected to return early this year, after members of the council had a chance to “vet and scrutinize” the contract.

However, a proposal by Councilman Mitch Englander to consider cost-benefit studies and potentially restart the bidding process prompted Garcetti to make an appeal for the existing contract to move forward.

Garcetti and police department officials had been aiming to outfit all officers with body cameras by next fall.

“I think the people of Los Angeles deserve these cameras and delaying deployment for years potentially for no good reason, I think, is irresponsible,” Garcetti said during a phone news conference with reporters April 19.

Garcetti said a typical bid process could take another 12 months.

Garcetti said he has the option to veto any plan to delay the purchase of the cameras, but added that he has had “good conversations” with council members and believes that once they learn more about the process, many, if not all, would be supportive of the contract.

Englander said that if restarting the bidding process is necessary, then “so be it,” but he also said he hopes it will not come to that.

Englander said his proposal would not be the cause of the delay, and that it was already stalled, and that his proposal would actually kick start the process.

Englander said that if there are any questions, the reports he is planning to request would “spell all that out” and hopefully dispel any “apprehension” about the matter.

“Things aren’t moving now, and the point is, it’s been months, it’s been sitting there and nothing’s been happening, and people are questioning the price tag,” Englander said.