Since the original implementation of body cameras for police officers was first introduced, there have been many pro and con positions presented. Some of the pro positions include improving officer/civilian interactions, an ability for command officers to oversee rank and file officers, encouragement for officers to maintain professional standards, and civilians more comfortable when engaging with police officers. The cons include, they are expensive to acquire and implement, it is expensive to maintain a data base of recordings, it requires new skill sets in administration, new rules of engagement are required to accommodate use of the cameras, and police officers resent the intrusion and big brother implications while wearing one.
But the reality in 2020 is everyone they encounter on the street has a quality video camera in their pocket, purse, or backpack. They are skilled in using them. They are more than willing and comfortable loading their videos up to social media. And as we’ve seen in Minneapolis and Kenosha, these videos can prove very damning to police officers and can cause major social upheavals.
These videos may not always be 100% accurate or tell the complete story. They seldom have decent audio and are often filmed at some distance from the activity or at an unusual angle and they don’t see all that there is to see. And although with 2020 technology videos can be edited or enhanced to show something other than the facts, people tend to view these amateur videos as the truth.
So for an officer’s safety and to defend their side of the story, wouldn’t the best scenario be a body camera that includes the close up audio and video exactly as the officer is encountering it? Yes, it may still prove damning if the officer is acting outside of their authority or outside of approved procedures. But in many more cases it may prove enlightening to what was apparent to the officer but not necessarily to bystanders.
According to local news sources there are a lot of area police departments who don’t have body cameras. It seems that updating all of these departments with the proper equipment would improve police accountability in fact and in the eyes of the public…and protect police from inadvertent misrepresentations of their actions as viewed through third party amateur videos.
Whichever candidate wins on November 3rd, they should provide federal funds and federal guidelines for acquiring and maintaining body cams for every law enforcement agency in the nation.