A body the worn camera is a very resourceful invention that records the actions and conduct of law enforcing agencies with the public and also to collect and record evidence at crime scenes. The most important use of body cameras and videos is to increase and improve public as well as police accountability in the court of law. The police are encouraged and told to make more use of body cameras and videos because of the upcoming complaints and objections raised by the public over police brutality and discrimination. More and more attention is being paid to the issue that involves the police to wear body cameras and record their actions accordingly. Hence, police work with and without body cameras would help to determine police conduct and responsibility during their work, as well as determine their honesty to the law.
There are a general truth and understanding on the fact that people will always work and act differently when they are being watched. This makes them more aware of what they are doing, and they would definitely prevent themselves from making any mistake. The same goes for the police that is a responsible institution of the country. Officers have been recorded and known to give false evidence, distort the story on the crime scene and been accused of police brutality and unjust treatment of civilians that were caught by them. (CATO Institute). The reason for this is the huge amount of authority that is granted to the police by law. It can lead to waywardness and sometimes, police officers can become biased in judgment and accountability upon factors such as race and ethnicity. It can lead to error in judgment as well. Hence, if their actions are not being recorded, then they can exceed in making wrong judgments.
Therefore, body cameras and recording videos for officers can help the judicial system make fair decisions. Moreover, the police will be aware that they cannot treat the public unjustly because their actions, words, and statements are being recorded, and they cannot be changed or altered under any circumstances. This can greatly change the way the police operates as a department, and it will help to improve their conduct. Another positive effect of body cameras is the treatment of the people which are racially discriminated against. The African American race and Hispanics, as well as Native Americans, are several races that are highly suspected by the police, and every crime scene includes them to become the prime targets. There are plenty of cases where unarmed black citizens are gunned down only because the police ‘suspected’ they had a gun on them. Therefore, if the police know they are being recorded and watched, they would thoroughly investigate, not shoot impulsively and the incidences of racial targeting and attacks would be lessened significantly. (Scheindlin).
When the police work without body cameras, there are more stop and frisk incidences, more arrests for the most trivial cases, not violating the ordinances and did not communicate well with the public. Moreover, many police officers did not even think about how well they could know about the citizens unless they spent more time and talked to them thoroughly. (CATO Institute).
After the use of body cameras, the rates of police officers arresting people for stop and frisks was significantly reduced, and a number of arrests also went down. The officers that wore body cameras had issued 23.1% more correct citations for violations of ordinances given by the law and their arrests were moreover justified. Also, many of the police officers assured that they communicated 13.5% better than those who didn’t have the cameras. (Scheindlin).
An issue that concerns the police work with the use of police cameras is that there is a violation of privacy in a case. Sometimes the criminal’s activities, the grieving families, and the suffering of the people can become very evident as everything is recorded in cameras. This can lead to distraught and discomfort amongst the victim’s family when everything is shown on tape in front of strangers. (CATO Institute).
However, the plus side of this is that no shred of evidence can remain hidden, nor can it be distorted by verbal means. Videos and live footage can help a family lead itself to justice so that any kind of loophole can be seen and discovered easily. The police can also solve complex cases with ease because they can replay the video anytime they want so they can solve a case with success.
Honesty amongst the police department is something that has become a predicament in the present day. The purpose of introducing the body cameras in the police department is to keep officers in check and to help the public in gaining justice. Strapping those cameras to the police is one way in which the police can be kept in check. (Scheindlin).
The effect of this is the ability of the police to gain the trust of the public, which is a major issue. The people will be able to trust the police more, and it will enable them to question and determine the truthfulness in the statements put forward by the police. The body cameras are also accessories in helping freedom of speech and allowing the people to speak their part in a case. Moreover, it is very easy to distinguish between the truth and falsehood in a case.
Conclusively, it can be said that body cameras and videos for the police are helpful tools that aid the police in performing their duties justly, establish better relations with the public, solve cases with precision and most importantly, gain the trust of the people who can believe the police is a non-corrupt institution.
CATO Institute. Police Body Cameras. 2015. Web. 11 Feb 2016.
Scheindlin, A. Shira. Will the widespread use of body cameras improve police accountability?
Yes. America’s Quarterly. 2015. Web. 11 Feb 2016.