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5199 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. #608
Post Office Box 15679
Long Beach California, 90815-0679
Phone: (562) 597-8000
Fax: (562) 597-9410
Letters to Editor

Police Body Cameras

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 20


Thank you for your article promoting the use of body cameras by the Long Beach Police Department. The use of body cameras by our police officers can be, like the president of the Los Angeles Police Department's Board of Police Commissioners says, transformative and historic. Use of body cameras should provide an immediate reduction in personnel complaints, law suits and a savings in the millions from legal settlements and jury awards currently pouring out of city coffers. Police resources currently dedicated to investigations of officer involved shootings, excessive force and other complaints of misconduct can also be re-allocated to criminal investigations and patrol deployments once the program is in place. All of this adds up to to a greater contribution to public safety and enhanced respect for our police officers.

I am putting my check in the mail today to Citywatch Foundation, P.O. Box 15679, Long Beach, CA 90815-0679 to support implementation of a LBPD body camera program.

However, I believe that public donations should be only a small part of funding for the program. The City should direct the LBPD to allocate its "slush fund" monies already in possession of the police department to fund the majority of monies needed for full implementation of a body camera program.

Over the past seven years LBPD narcotic enforcement (including raids on legitimate medical marijuana dispensaries) has brought in $3,529,751 from asset seizures made under the so-called equitable sharing program launched by the federal government as a means of leveraging local law enforcement to reallocate public safety resources in order to fight the failed war on drugs.

The requirements of the federal "equitable sharing" program specifically dictates that the $3.5 million distributed to the LBPD be used for law enforcement purposes only. I do not know how the funds have been allocated in the past or are currently being used, but I do know that it is unlawful for such funds to be placed in the city's general fund. Therefore, these monies should be readily available for allocation to a Body Camera program, especially in light of the monumental positives associated with such a program.

The "equitable share" of property seized under a corrupted federal civil system, which imposes the burden of proof upon the property owner, by the LBPD from its citizens, property owners, business owners and residents allocated back to the LBPD by the federal government over the past seven years is as follows:

2006 $ 27,577
2007 $ 472,108
2008 $ 548,927
2009 $1,350,661
2010 $ 502,617
2011 $ 156,255
2012 $ 471,606
TOTAL $3,529,751

Once the initial body camera program is deployed the cost savings outlined above will easily off-set any perceived need for future federal equitable sharing income, contribute to a higher level of Constitutional policing, significantly reduce "nobel cause corruption" within the police department and enhance both pubic safety and police/community relations. It will also allow the LBPD to expand and maintain the camera program and at the same time withdraw from the federal equitable sharing program while avoiding an outcry from those in city government who have become addicted to the federal drug money.

I urge withdrawal from the federal program because virtually 80% of asset seizures made, and recognized by many as "policing for profit," are not accompanied by a criminal prosecution, promotes nobel cause corruption among our police officers and diverts police resources away from public safety policing in favor of the federal government's failed drug war, especially when considered in light of the fact that the construct of asset seizure provided under California law is fair, just, ethical and requires a criminal conviction.

Stephen Downing
Deputy Chief, LAPD (ret.)
Resident, Long Beach