Law EnforcementPublic Safety

The Pros and Cons of Police Body Cameras

The recent string of alleged abuse of power by police has brought into question the hot button topic of police being issued body cameras in an attempt to cut down on police abuse. This all came to a head a few months ago with the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Our President, who seems to be quick on the trigger to address some issues and totally blind to others, has suggested funding millions of dollars to get police body cameras to stem the alleged police brutality. Let’s take a look at some of the Pros and Cons of a police officer wearing a body camera.

Just to go on the record before I write this article, I want to point out three things: The first: I in no way, shape or form approve of any use of excessive force or abuse of power by our fine men and women in police uniforms. Secondly, if you are not obeying a police officer’s orders and resist arrest or flee, then you are putting both you and the police officer in a precarious and maybe dangerous situation that could get ugly when split second life or death decisions are made. Finally, I also would like to say that I don’t believe the victims in every incident are as innocent as they are made out to be; but, I also acknowledge the fact that, although I believe it’s a very small percentage, some police officers may commit acts that are deemed excessive or unlawful.

Body Cam Pros

  • Accountability – If officers know they are being filmed, experts believe there will be a tendency to follow the letter of the law and the rules of apprehension more closely.
  • Their limited track record has yielded positive results – Places such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles have started pilot programs to test the use of body cams and have had positive results so far.
  • It will create more trust in interactions with police and individuals – In the incidents in Ferguson and elsewhere, people have claimed the victims fled because of a general mistrust of the police. Advocates say the people being questioned by police will trust the officer’s motives more if they know the incident is being filmed.

Body Cam Cons

  • Invasion of privacy – under the laws in this country a person is innocent until proven guilty. If an officer films every incident they encounter, even the innocent people will appear guilty just because of the fact that they were seen on a police body cam. There are also the questions of victims’ rights when crimes take place and are filmed.
  • There are no guarantees with body cams – Just because an officer has a body cam on does not mean it will record the portion of the incident it needs to or will not be turned off by an unscrupulous officer to hide something.
  • Cost and reliability – Body cameras are small, flimsy and a form of technology, which are all things that could lead to malfunctioning during the rigors of police work. The technology is also fairly expensive to issue on a large scale.

Of course this is just scratching the surface of this debate, but it will be interesting to see how everything plays out over time in regards to the police body cam issue.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

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