FAQ :: What do you know about spy cameras in police cars?

The trend is growing. The Los Angeles Police Department planned to install cameras in 300 squad cars in South L.A. in 2010, some say sooner. The police hierarchy argued that the long-awaited move would provide evidence of illegal behavior by suspects and police officers.

Police Commission President John Mack said in-car videos have been “a very top priority” for the civilian panel that oversees the LAPD. He noted that the federal judge who monitored reforms at the department wanted cameras in its police cars, particularly to help weed out any racial profiling.

The department spent $5.5 million to place cameras in 300 South L.A. police cars by the end of the summer of 2010. Police Chief Charlie Beck hopes to convince the City Council to spend another $20 million in 2011 to put cameras in all 1,600 LAPD cars, now that digital technology allows the department to more easily store and retrieve thousands of hours of video.

“One of the holy grails that we are trying to here is being able to watch streaming video from the dash-cams of police cars, ya know, in my bedroom or wherever I need to see it,” he said.

Putting cameras in police cars is an excellent use of Big Brother technology. It keeps Big Brother’s minions from framing law-abiding citizens and it can be helpful in weeding out corrupt police officers. Although even videotapes can disappear if a bureaucrat wants to hide evidence of malfeasance. (This is a case where Big Brother gets a taste of his own medicine.) [1]

LAPD cruisers have infrared cameras and license plate scanners. AOL’s Translogic caught a sneak preview of the new squad car of choice for the Los Angeles Police Department: the Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle (PPV).

Billed as the “sum total of all the law enforcement community has learned about patrol cars to date” by the report, the PPV boasts a 6.0L V-8 engine with 355 horsepower, 18-inch steel wheels, and a host of gadgets that puts any Hollywood squad car to shame.

The Caprice, which replaces the long-used Ford Crown Victoria, is equipped with an infrared night vision camera, automated license plate scanner, and a touch-screen center console that replaces the older computers traditionally used by officers.

In addition to horsepower and firepower, the cruiser is also outfitted with the latest in information technology, with ethernet, Wi-Fi and an experimental wireless-mesh network in the trunk. Even the bad guys can ride in comfort: cut-outs in the back seat are custom-made to accommodate any handcuffed suspect.

LAPD officials say vehicle wrapping was used on all-black sedans instead of traditional paint to minimize repair expenses and protect resale value. This brings the expected taxpayer cost to be about $20,000. The new 2012 Chevrolet Caprice PPV started cruising city streets as early as in mid-2011. [2]

Macon County Police Chief Mike Burns said his goal is to install a camera in every marked car in the police fleet. To outfit all marked cars, the department will need about 100 more cameras. The cameras installed last week cost $3,218 each and were purchased using a combination of grant funds and the department’s own budget. [3]


[1] . Stoltze, Frank. “LAPD installing cameras in patrol cars – racial profiling a target.” 7.14.2010. www.scpr.org/news/2010/07/14/17260/lapd-finally-installing-cameras-patrol-cars.

[2] Moody, Brian. “In Detail: Chevrolet Caprice PPV.” 5.26.2011. http://translog ic.aolautos.com/2011/05/26/in-detail-chevrolet-caprice-ppv. “2011 Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle taking over streets in 2011.” 10.05.2009. www.egmcartech.com/2009/10/05/2011-chevrolet-caprice-police-pat rol-vehicle-taking-over-streets-in-2011.

[3] Womack, Amy Leigh. “Improved police car cameras latest tool for Macon officers.” Macon.com. 2.07.2011. www.macon.com/2011/02/07/1441279/im proved-police-car-cameras-latest.html.