LAPD Outfits Every Officer with Body Cameras

Officers talk about the effects of capturing their interactions with the public when out on patrol.
6:42 | 10/24/15

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for LAPD Outfits Every Officer with Body Cameras
We begin with a major reform for LAPD where every single officer is you fitted with a body cam. Will it be cops in check? ABC's Matt Gutman is with them on the ground. Reporter: Lapd giving chase, careening around a corner. We're with them. Hands up! Turn your back towards me! Get on your knees! Hands on top of your head! Lay down on your stomach! Reporter: For officers Parras and splenga, nights like this are routine. The images you're seeing are not. Thought he had a gun? Reporter: Over the past month LAPD, which earned infamy with the Rodney king video, becoming by far the largest police department in the nation to deploy body cameras on all its patrol officers, 7,000 of them. Do you think this will change the LAPD in any discernible way? I think it will change all law enforcement. First of all, the LAPD is the biggest agency that's doing this. But it won't be long before all cops will do this. This is going to become a common piece of equipment for law enforcement. Really the question will be not if you have them, it's why don't you have them? Stop, stop, stop! Reporter: Over the past years body cameras have been a hot-button issue thanks in part to videos like these. This reserve deputy allegedly mistaking his gun for his taser in Oklahoma City. I shot him, I'm sorry, , . Reporter: The reserve deputy is facing second-degree manslaughter charges. He says it was a terrible accident. But perhaps the most publicized example -- Stop, stop! Reporter: An officer for university of Cincinnati shooting to death Samuel due pose during a traffic stop. The video revealing what the prosecutor called -- The most asinine act I've ever seen a police officer make. Reporter: Officer ray tensing told other officers right after the incident he needed to protect himself. I thought he was going to run me over, he was dragging on me. He took off, my hand was caught inside. I missed the tires luckily but I was getting drug by him. Reporter: The video seems to show a different story. Investigators concluded he was never dragged and never in danger. Tensing was fired from the department and charged with murder. Despite these examples, advocates say the cameras have probably absolved more cops than they have condemned. I think it shows that we believe in what we do enough to put it on film. And this allows that to happen. This is a camera. You can tell by this blinking light that the camera's on. Reporter: Which is why the LAPD is giving us an exclusive look at their new gear. The taser made axom. Taser has seen sales surge over 154% in a year. More than 53,000 of these cameras are being buckled into police utility belts across the country still that's less than one camera per 10 cops in the U.S. We spent two days and nights with the LAPD doing as they do. All units, code 4. Reporter: Filming every interaction with the public. Right there. Reporter: Around midnight, he spots something in the darkness. He guns the engine. In pursuit of a suspected local gang member. You thought he had a gun? Yeah. Reporter: There's a scramble in the alleyways to find him. Until now their dash cams would have only captured the car chase. Those new cameras now capturing the foot pursuit, the stop, the frisk. Close quarters contact that is often the source of complaints about excessive force. This young man knows what's coming. Earlier this year the officers say he was charged with grand theft auto and the possession of a firearm. He doesn't pay us much attention. What is the tattoo on the back of your neck? Darlene. Reporter: While cuffed, artundia searches to see if a gun was ditched. Both of them have significant others waiting for them at home. They do the toughest shifts in one of the nais nation's toughest beats. The mission division, aka gangland L.A. And skid row. Made famous by the movie "End of watch." Like those cops a decade of experience has honed an almost feral instinct about criminal activity and protecting themselves. They wear the cameras on their hips, near their guns. My personal preference for being on the belt, I want the video to catch the suspect's hands. Not only that, but if we get into that situation where we are in a shooting, I don't want my hands blocking the suspect's. You can't be here and your hands be blocking. Right. How you're wearing it, your hands would be blocking the suspect. Is it helpful for you? It's only been a week, too early to tell. Reporter: The video captures very little. Mostly blackness as we race on a code 3. To what they know will be a prank call. And it jangles as we clamber up to a flophouse, knowing the officers will soon turn back around. They worry with police officers feeling under increased threat, when the real thing happens when their life is on the line, the camera will be a potentially dangerous or deadly distraction. What if there's an active shooter in front of me and I'm thinking about in instead of my gun? That's the only issue I have right now with this. Reporter: Another concern, it might not always give a complete picture. In some ways that makes this the product incomplete. Gives you only that one snip pent of time. One piece of the puzzle. It's a big piece. In some cases it's going to be a huge piece. In other cases it's going to be a smaller piece. It totally depends on when it's activated, what the angle is, where the individual's standing. Reporter: Lapd believes the cameras could protect its officers in the field and in court. And a couple of days before we interviews chief beck, reembedded with another unit that shot a man believed to be armed. Dealing with the public, will we be able to see that? If presented in court it becomes part of the public domain. Reporter: That means the public and media will have to wait. It's end of watch. Artundia and spalenka dock their cameras, grateful a relatively uneventful night means they won't have video to review. Matt Gutman in Los Angeles.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"6:42","description":"Officers talk about the effects of capturing their interactions with the public when out on patrol.","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/Nightline","id":"34697778","title":"LAPD Outfits Every Officer with Body Cameras","url":"/Nightline/video/lapd-outfits-officer-body-cameras-34697778"}