Should Police Wear Body Cameras? Some People would like to have all police officers wear body cameras but there are also those that oppose this idea.

Glossary

Body Camera: A camera that is attached to the body to record in first personThis is needed to understand the topic because it’s explaining how this can be used to help explain conflicts. There are also many types of body cameras too.

Misconduct: unacceptable or improper behavior, especially by an employee or professional person. There have been a rise of complaints of misconduct on police officials across the United States. There have also been police officers jailed because of unacceptable behavior and that’s why people are wanting body cameras.

Corruption: dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery.There are rumors that the government is corrupted and same with police departments. There are instances where some officials hide evidence that would make the officer the good guy when they aren't so innocent.

Discrimination: the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex. This is needed to understand because this is why people want to implement body cams. Many of the issues with complaints on police is that they are being harsher because of who the person is.

Public Records Law: Documents or pieces of information that are not considered confidential and generally pertain to the conduct of government. This is important to know because this is why in some cases the video wont be reliable because of privacy concerns and the victim not wanting everyone to see the video. This is a reason why some might see as a reason not to have police officers wear body cameras since in some instances it might be to personal for the victim to want to release and in result the case might be dismissed.

Police: The civil force of a national or local government, responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order. This is important to know because body cameras are something they will be wearing and by wearing them it will determine which police officers have done misconduct.

What’s the total cost of having body cameras?

Link: https://www.bwcscorecard.org/

Body cameras average between $300 to $800 per officer, but the total cost monthly for them can be around $1500 because of storing all the footage. Some police officers avoid body cameras because of the amount it will cost since it’s coming out of their pocket. In Fact, Bakersfield police sgt. Carruesca explains how much it cost their department for body cameras, they had bought 200 cameras, that added up $240,000 yearly in storage costs (Kotowski). Body cameras do cost a lot, but what body cameras can show is what actually has happened in a controversial confrontation. “The results have been very positive, Chandler said Tuesday; citizen complaints have decreased and there have been several instances where people came to the substation to file a complaint, but upon watching footage taken from a body-camera admitted they were mistaken in how they remembered what occurred,” said Sgt. Chandler of Wasco, CA Police Sub Station (Police Body Worn Cameras: A Policy Scorecard). This shows that body cameras can benefit police departments prove false accusations and clear the air. Having body cameras to see what had happened in a controversial altercation with police sounds like a no brainer, but there are many people who oppose the cost of all this equipment.

Have body cameras been effective?

Whereas without body cameras police are using evidence from either a dashcam, that might not even show the confrontation, or base evidence off of witnesses which can be unreliable after a few days, and if they had body cameras to refer to then they would have a more clearer picture on what happened. In fact, with the recordings from body cameras it will show evidence of what happened to judges, reporters, and others (National Police Misconduct Reporting Project). Having evidence from a first person view can show the tone of the situation. This can also justify certain actions, such as self defense. For example, the Rialto Police Department in California reported a 60 percent decrease in uses of force after implementing the cameras (Mire). Police officers wearing body cameras don't use force in some cases because they act differently when being watched. If police officers are acting differently when having these cameras on them, then there would be a decrease in complaints on police officers using excessive force.

Have body cameras been effective?

Whereas not having body cameras and only using evidence from either a dashcam, that might not even show the confrontation, or base evidence off of witnesses which can be unreliable after a few days. In fact, with the recordings from body cameras it will show evidence of what happened to judges, reporters, and others (National Police Misconduct Reporting Project). Having evidence from a first person view can show the tone of the situation. This can also justify certain actions, such as self defense. For example, the Rialto Police Department in California reported a 60 percent decrease in uses of force after implementing the cameras (Mire). Police officers wearing body cameras don't use force in some cases because they act differently when being watched. If police officers are acting differently when having these cameras on them, then there would be a decrease in complaints on police officers using excessive force.

What studies have been done on police wearing body cameras?

All around the country there have been many complaints on police officers using excessive force and if body cameras could help decrease or justify those complaints. There have been many studies done regarding if police wearing body cameras actually is beneficial. An example is in San Diego, a 2016 report based on statistics showed that body cameras helped reduce personal body force by officers by 46% (Kelsh). Studies on the behavior of police officers have shown to have a decrease while wearing body cameras, but there are also other studies showing complaints decreasing as well. In Rialto, California, a study of a yearlong program that concluded in 2013 showed a 87 percent drop in civilian complaints, compared to the previous year’s totals (Wing). If studies have backed up body cameras and the benefits to having officers wearing them, then this sounds like a no brainer to have but people still oppose them.

Will all police offices ever be required to wear body cameras?

There have been departments and states that have tried to push having every police officer to wear body cameras because they see the benefits it can do. As an example, New York's mayor signed a contract to have the NYPD equip every officer with a body camera by the end of 2019 (Fingas). New York’s Mayor Bill de Basio believes that having body cameras will be a big step forward to safety. He’s not the only one that believes this either. In fact, in December 2014, President Barack Obama announced a $75 million initiative to help departments cover the costs of expanding their programs (Wing). If the President of The United States believes that having police officers wear body cameras is a positive thing we need to have, then maybe it would be a good idea to try them out.

How can body cameras not be useful?

In many cases body cameras can be very useful or in others very unuseful and these problems can stir the debate for whether body cameras are good or bad. Latah County Sheriff's Office Lt. Brannon Jordan stated, “My department has had cameras for 10 years, and I’ve acknowledged deputies sometimes forgetting to activate the cameras” (Kidd). When in a confrontation, it's not some police officer's intention to not power on their body cameras but simply because in stressful situations they are more focused on the conflict going on. Also with many other police officers wearing body cameras at the same scene it can cause duplication of the same footage. Peasant Glove Chief Mike Smith explains what had became a problem for them at their department with duplicated footage, “Our department’s server space was filled to the crashing point with keeping footage for just the 180 days. Because every encounter must be saved, the same encounter could be recorded from several different officers at the same time” (Giles). With the result of having too much footage, they had a problem with storing more footage and had to get it fixed. Having body cameras does have its flaws but then again nothing is perfect.

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