Body Cameras Will they be the solution to police brutality?


Privacy: being able to do something without it being seen.

Privacy issues are one of the reasons why body cams are being debated. Will cops be able to do their jobs correctly if they know every move will be criticized?

Evidence: facts used against a person, usually when convicted of a crime.

Body cams will, and have provided more evidence to be used against cops, and against criminals. Because they know if it's the cops fault something happened, or the suspects fault.

Funding: Receiving money to buy something.

If people didn't know what funding meant they wouldn't realize how much of a burden buying body cameras is on taxpayers, and the state. St Louis estimated that it would cost $1.2 million dollars to equip one thousand police officers. So is it really worth it to spend all of this money?

Police brutality: Extreme force used by a police officers.

Police brutality is a very strong point for advocates of body cams. They provide crucial evidence that otherwise wouldn't be available. For example in the shooting of Sam DuBose, the officer claimed he tried to run over him, but his body cam showed that was not the case, and the officer was found guilty for murder.

Complaints: Not being satisfied with something.

When body cams are introduced to police departments the amount of complaints drop. This is important because it means when police know they are being watched they will perform their job better.

Safety: being protected, or not being in danger

The most important aspect that people need to understand about body cameras is safety. They have proven in several cases to be beneficial to solving a case.

Implement: To start using something.

Real life cases of body cameras not being successful have caused people to wonder if the technology is ready for police to implement body cameras.

Where will they get the funding to buy the body cameras?

Often times when police want body cameras the funding isn't readily available, leaving police to get money from several sources besides the state. A survey done by the Police Executive Research Forum says that police “departments without body cameras cited cost as the primary barrier to using them”(Grovum). So if police agencies received more state funding they would be able to equip their officers with body cameras. Because police agencies are not receiving more state funding police receive funding in a couple of different ways. Last year the Department of Justice gave over one hundred police agencies twenty million dollars to buy body cams with. They also receive government funding to buy body cameras. Last year president Obama “gave 263 million dollars to police agencies across the country to buy body cameras”(Kliegman). This makes people wonder if the amount of money being given is being reflected by the amount of success from the cameras?

What results have states gotten with body cameras?

A lot of states have made cops wear body cameras, and they have received a lot of mixed results from them, complaints against officers have dropped, but their has been problems with getting police to turn them on. One trend that occurs from state to state is the improved behavior from cops. When police started using them in Pittsburgh, and San Diego “complaints against officers dropped 74 percent after introducing body cams to the force. In San Diego, use of force incidents decreased 47 percent”(Nasheed). Similar statistics happen in every state that uses body cameras on their police. The results aren't all positive though. The cameras have to be manually turned on and there are a lot of cases where officers do not turn them on before a shooting. When Terrence Sterling was shot by police “no officer at the scene activated their body camera until after the shooting. The city released footage of Sterling’s final moments this week—but that video begins more than a minute after shots were fired”(Meyer). So, before more police start implementing body cameras they need to fix this problem. Now people are beginning to question whether or not body cameras capture all of the evidence.

How well do body cameras capture what's going on?

Body cameras can be very successful, but they don’t cover a very wide camera angle, and can miss crucial information if not pointed the right way, your body can also block the camera's view. Body cameras can only capture things that are straight in front of them. Top of the line cameras by wolfcom have “120 degree built in wide angle lenses.” (Lewinski). So if a police officer is looking off to the side the camera might not capture what is happening because the camera is pointed straight ahead. Recordings could also be blocked from parts of your body. If an officer is firing a gun “a camera on your chest may not record much more than your extended arms and hands”(Lewinski). A solution to this could be a new camera on their guns that starts recording as soon as it is un holstered. Now the public wants to see those videos.

Who gets access to the body camera footage?

Body camera footage can be seen by police and courts, but the public cannot view the recordings. Police being able to see the footage from their body cameras can be a positive thing because “it allows officers to self-evaluate and find opportunities to improve how they handle a situation”(Erstad). This is why when body cameras are used there are less complaints from the public about police behavior. The public doesn't have the ability to view the footage in many states, “For 400 days, Chicago withheld video of an officer fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald”(Ulle). This can happen all across America, because in 49 states the public does not have access to the videos. Many people want the body cameras to be more successful before they expand.

What can they do to make body cameras be more successful?

Police body cameras can be made more successful if they solved the problems regarding turning them on and storing the footage. In case after case their are reports of officers not having their cameras turned on in vital moments. In December of 2014 police officer Jeremy Dear was fired“after repeated incidents in which he failed to activate his body camera just before using force, including just before shooting, and killing a teenaged girl”(Balko). In the future there needs to be a way to either get police to turn them on, or have them turn on automatically. Additionally, they can be more successful if they found a cost efficient way to store the videos. In a recent survey the Brennan Center found that “eight of the 25 police departments investigated destroy videos after 180 days”(Balko). This could be a problem if they need to go back to a video for evidence, but it has been deleted. In all body cameras have been successful, but could be even more successful if these policies were implemented.

Works Cited

Balko, Radley. “A new report shows the limits of police body cameras.” The Washington post, new-report-shows-the-limits-of-police-body-cameras/?utm_term=.6b81fcc43da5

Erstad, Will. “Police Perspective: The Pros & Cons of Police Body Cameras.” Rasmussencollege, Accessed 23 January 2017.

Grovum, Jake. “States Struggle To Pay For Police Body Cameras.” The Huffington Post, Accessed 9 February 2017.

Kliegman, Julie. “Obama requests $263 million from Congress for police training, body cameras.” The Week,

million-from-congress-police-training-body-cameras. Accessed 9 february 2017.

Lewinski, Bill. “10 limitations of body cams you need to know for your protection.” Police One, Accessed 13 February 2017.

Meyer, Robinson. "Body Cameras Are Betraying Their Promise." The Atlantic, Accessed 24 January 2017.

Nasheed,Jamilah. “Body cameras protect police and the public.” St. Louis Post, Accessed 10 February 2017.

Ulle, Margaret. “Police Body-Worn Cameras: Where Your State Stands” Urban Institute, Accessed 14 February 2017.

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