Police Body Cameras POLICE BODY CAMERAS HAVE RECENTLY BEEN A MORE POPULAR AND are an EFFECTIVE WAY TO IMPROVE SAFETY AMONG THE PUBLIC, AND accountability among police officers while rebuilding the trust between the community and police.

Glossary

  • Flagged footage: Includes footage that captures use-of-force incidents, arrests, detentions, or an incident subject to a complaint.
  • Unflagged-Footage: Footage that does not include the “flagged” incidents just described.
  • Accountability: the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.
  • Transparency: the condition of being easy to perceive or detect..
  • Trove: Valuable information of things
  • Surveillance: to be watched closely/ observed.
Why are body cameras becoming more common?

Due to recent videos of police shootings and police brutality, body cameras are becoming more and more common in police departments throughout the United States. People believe that this new technology will bring more accountability and transparency for the police officers actions and the amount of police shooting and police brutality cases will drop. According to a recent study done by an American libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute states that the introduction of body cameras along with other adjustments made by the Rialto police department lowered the amount of force used on citizens and the amount of complaints by nearly 93%. Although a decision on the matter could not come from just this factor alone, the statistics presented amazing results. Another reason body cameras are becoming more common is because they are speeding up the legal system with a trove of evidence. According to Roseau Police Chief, Ward Anderson, “body cameras are a necessity and a money saving tool states… the videos may negate the need to do additional investigation or may lead to defendants pleading guilty more quickly”. Along with the benefits of accountability, the body cameras also lead to faster court cases white in turn saves taxpayers money by differentiating Flagged footage and Unflagged-Footage leading to a safer community, but from this arises another question, how much will the body cameras cost the police departments and how will they pay for it?

How much do body cams cost the departments, and how will they pay for them?

Body cameras cost millions of dollars to buy and with added maintenance and the space needed to store all the footage the price rises, but with new government assistance it has never been easier for police departments to get and implement body cameras. Although it may not seem like it, body cameras are fairly expensive. In fact, according to the Cato Institute, for Cleveland alone the Associated Press reported that it will cost 3.3 million dollars over a 5 year period to implement body cameras to the Cleveland Police departments. This is a big price tag for body cameras, but the cost is worth it because of all of the added benefits like faster trials. Although the cost may seem like it will prevent police departments from getting the technology, it is not, and this is due to the role of the United States Department of Justice, who recently just awarded twenty-three million dollars this year for police departments to purchase the body cameras and implement them (Volpenhein). With the Department of Justice involved, the body cameras will be make available for all police officers. Along with the Department of Justice, The Bureau of Justice assistance also introduced a toolkit which helps the police officers get their body cameras up and running much faster. Since the introduction of the toolkit body cameras have been implemented into more than 106 police departments across the United States (Body Worn Cameras). With this new toolkit the readily available cameras from the Department of Justice will now get implemented and used much faster. The concern with how the police officers will get the cameras and how much they will cost has been taken care of, but now with all these body cameras how do we protect the privacy of the people and places within the footage?

What is the concern with privacy?

With the introduction of police body cameras comes the concern with the surveillance privacy of the people, which includes who will have access to the footage, and what is the footage allowed to show when it is dealing with private property. The Cato institute, an America Liberal think tank states that”the indiscriminate release of body camera footage could have a devastating effect on the victims of crime”. If the footage is available to everyone it could negatively affect the victim of the crime whether it be a potential job employer seeing the video online or having the footage release the inside of people's homes. Although privacy is a concern, it is not as big as a concern as it is thought to be. According to a survey done by The Arizona Daily Sun only 10% of people felt that their privacy would be invaded with the introduction of body cameras. With only 10% of the people feeling their privacy was at risk the remaining saw no problems with privacy, and that the introduction of body cameras would have a positive impact. Although privacy is a small factor with the introduction of body cameras, there are many other drawbacks that need to be addressed.

What are some drawbacks of the new technology?

Steve Kilar, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona states that “One of the biggest challenges with body-worn cameras is who controls when they’re turned off or on”. One of the few drawbacks to body cameras for police is when to have the camera on or off, because not all of the police encounters are negative and if everything was recorded it would take up a lot of space resulting in a lot of footage to go through and delete. And if the cameras had to be turned on during a confrontation it could get the officer into a dangerous situation and if the camera was not turned it, it negates the whole purpose of the idea. The current solution to this is having the body cameras turned on by the officer while en route to the crime, but a future solution is to have a system much like the dash cams in the police cruisers. A dash cam in a police cruiser is turned on when the sirens are turned on, and people are trying to do the same with body cams by having them turn on when voices are raised or when the officers body moves suddenly. Another drawback to the technology is the whether or not it will be able to be used by all police departments mostly the rural ones with a small budget. Northwood Police Chief Stan Baker whose department consists of him and four other men, states “I really can't see throwing money in that direction”. Officer Baker does not think that the body cameras will be a useful piece of technology due to their limited budget and the cost for maintenance. Baker also states that the technology their department is already equipped with such as their dash cams and laptops which are so out of date they cannot run certain programs.This leads to the next question which deal with if the body cameras are really necessary and how they are affecting the community today.

How are body cameras affecting the community today?

The current implementation of body cameras is having a positive effect on the community today for many reasons. One reason being that it is dramatically improving the relationship between citizens and police officers, in fact according to an ongoing study being done by Arizona State University, with the introduction of police body cameras, “Nearly 90 percent of the citizens strongly agreed the officers treated them with respect, treated them fairly, they were honest, they listened, they cared, and they acted professionally,”. With body cameras comes the accountability of the police officers and the trust of the citizens leading to a much happier experience when dealing with the police. Another way body cameras are affecting the community today is providing the full story to victims of police incidents. In an interview with CNN Anthony Scott, the brother of Walter Scott who was shot in the back by a North Charleston police officer was asked if the incident concerning his brother would have “ taken off as quickly as it had, if it wasn't recorded the way it was”. Scott goes on to say that the first video that was released had little context and the body cameras shows the whole situation and with the body cameras comes benefits for the community and the police officers. The body cameras showing full context of the situation dramatically affects the community today because now people will be able to see whether or not the action one was with reason or not.

Credits:

Created with images by G20Voice - "Police" • Chairman Ting - "Protesters" • TBIT - "dollar bank note money" • Michael Francis McCarthy - "PRIVACY NOW" • Utility_Inc - "bodyworn body camera police body camera" • davidsonscott15 - "Police Car Lights"

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