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."
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