Since police departments across the US have such love for high tech devices that keep them safe from almost anything civilians could use against them, I began to wonder just how they’d feel about a high tech device, worn somewhere on their bodies, that would help protect citizens. I mean hey, that is their job, isn’t it? Protecting the citizenry of these United States?

Some studies have been done to determine the effectiveness of body cameras worn by police officers. Effects on police/community relations and the numbers of complaints by citizens, of excessive force used by police officers were two key factors in these studies.

From Salon.com……
“The most famous of these studies comes out of Rialto, California, and produced results that even the local administrators found shocking; in the first year, with only half the police force wearing the cameras, department-wide use of force decreased 60 percent, while complaints against officers dropped almost 90 percent.”

It was also found that relations between the police and their communities were noticeably improved.

Law suits filed by citizens who have been abused by the police total in the billions, nationwide. That is tax payer money used by law enforcement for legal fees and settlements won by citizens. Police body cameras would greatly reduce the amount of dollars wasted because of poor policing and just plain bad police officers.

There are questions concerning the costs of implementing the use of body cameras, especially in poorer states, counties and cities. I would think the money saved by not having court costs and settlement sums spent on bad policing, cameras could be paid for.

There are also some concerns about the privacy of innocent bystanders and law abiding citizens, being recorded en masse by cops wearing cameras. Personally, I see this issue as a very small one, considering the fact that public cameras are just about everywhere these days.

The Ferguson police department has body cams and dash cams for their patrol cars, but complained that they didn’t have enough money to put them to use. These cameras are sitting in some room, collecting dust. Gee, they sure had plenty of money for bullet proof vests, assault rifles, sound cannons, and armored assault vehicles.

Honest police departments will welcome the use of body cams for their patrol officers. The ones who’s policing efforts are questionable, will not.

Will it be necessary to pass a federal law dictating the use of such cameras for our police forces nationwide? I would say, probably so.

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Nirek
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Update:
The police in Ferguson Mo. are now wearing body cameras!
Bet there will not be any more shenanigans there. At least I hope not.

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SearingTruth
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No one saw.
ST

“I still hold her memory in my hands. We play, pretend, just sit, and sometimes just laugh, and sometimes just cry.”
SearingTruth

A Future of the Brave

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kesmarn
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Homie, forgive me for taking days to comment on your terrific article. A family member had a bit of a health issue, (but is on the mend now) so my computer time was limited for a while there.

I think there should probably be a law requiring cops to wear these cameras. As others have said — it’s just as much for their own protection as for the public’s. I understand that there would be short periods — lunch breaks and other “necessary” breaks — when it could be turned off. But overall, a policeman’s entire shift should be viewable at the end of the day.

The Salon article you cited gives us all the reason we could possibly ask for — a 90% reduction in citizen complaints against the police. This alone would bode well for the future. The less citizens are antagonized and alienated by law enforcement, the more likely it is for a good working relationship to develop between the two of them.

Something along these lines happened in the nursing profession when Obamacare was initiated. For obvious patient privacy reasons, nurses couldn’t be required to wear cameras. But — reimbursements to hospitals became dependent in part on how high patient satisfaction levels were. Suddenly this became a really high priority for hospital administrations (fancy that!). Nurses who were the object of patient complaints for bad attitudes or laziness were fired. Often on no notice whatsoever. You’d be amazed at how attitudes improved after that. And the thing is — I think this is working out better for everyone. Patients have more pleasant nurses. And — oddly — it seems that “acting” more pleasant actually makes the few nurses who had formerly been less than courteous feel better about themselves over the longer run.

This is a principle in Asian philosophies, as you probably know. When the “external man” is virtuous, the “internal man” tends to follow along eventually. I think it might work that way here too, don’t you?

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monicaangela
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Excellent article KT, and a great question at the end of the article. I don’t believe the federal government can force state governments to require these cameras though. If they can’t require states to implement free medicaid, I’m sure they’ll have a problem forcing governors to force the police in their state to where cameras even though it would be beneficial for the citizens of that state. Those tax payer dollars you speak of come from city and state taxes mostly. The money spent for police brutality settlements by the federal government usually come from civil law suits filed by citizens when they can’t get redress from their city or state.

Examples: http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/unit-5-chicago-reporter-chicago-police-ipra–149771045.html

And

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-04/nyc-police-abuse-joins-pothole-settlements-costing-735-million.html

Here is a great article you might want to read concerning the subject:

Shielded from Justice: Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States
http://www.columbia.edu/itc/journalism/cases/katrina/Human%20Rights%20Watch/uspohtml/uspo30.htm
Civil Remedies

I believe if cities and states are honest, they would require starting today that their police officers wear cameras. I believe the reason they don’t is because they think they would be paying out even more if they did. Maybe the statistic you used from the Rialto, California case study might help police department leaders to reconsider the use of cameras for their police officers. Where they don’t, I believe the citizens of those states and this country should pass laws to require those departments that refuse to utilize the cameras whether they want to or not.

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Nirek
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KT, the guys who went in and got OBL were wearing these things. I see no reason to keep theirs in some room. They would make everyone safer and protect the officers from false reports of abuse. They of course would also protect the people the police deal with every day from police abuse.

I think it is a win win situation.

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monicaangela
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I agree Nirek, another thing police officers should be required to do is write a full report after each violent incident they encounter on the street. It should not be legal for police officers and prosecutors to coordinate their defense before an actual police report has been filed by the offending officer.

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Nirek
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Works for me, Monica.

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MurphTheSurf3
Editor

KT….what a very direct, simple, and so well timed comment. Excellent.

I know an officer who was opposed to his force adopting them and now says: “I feel a lot safer with my cam and so does the public.”

His force has a message on the side of their cars: “Smile, your on Candid Camera and So are We!”

They have had the same experience you describe: They act better and so does the public. Complaints against the police have been cut in half since documentation is so easy.

AND, in an e-mail he sent met shortly after the shooting in Ferguson told me: “The Chief Just announced that they are phasing in a system whereby the office can live broadcast sight and sound with a push of a button on his person or in his car. They are even looking at voice activation with a code phrase. Of course, we quickly figured out that if could activate live broadcast from our end, then the communications center could activate our cameras as well. It is invasive, no doubt. It is also really a good idea. We don’t have partners riding with us so this is the next best thing.”

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RSGmusic
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RSGmusic

Hi Murph.

Really they should be not be able to turn them off themselves.
They should activate when the police exit the car or something.

A synthesizer can create any instrument made and others that have not been created yet.

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RSGmusic
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RSGmusic

OH KT nice article and you are correct. Body camera’s are and excellent idea. The one thing they can be made so the police officer can not turn them off.

Next, Police cars can have cameras installed so all 4 way view’s around the car can be taped. It might take 4 camera’s but it will make the citizens feel safer and will protect police from allegations or prove they did something wrong. Again they should not be able to turn them off.

These camera’s tapes can them be down loaded to a computer after each shift.

A synthesizer can create any instrument made and others that have not been created yet.

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MurphTheSurf3
Editor

In Pittsburgh there are two cameras, front and back, and they follow the officer as he/she moves. They also have collar cams at the top of their vests. Your suggestion reflects what is in the process of being done…good thinking.

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RSGmusic
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RSGmusic

Thanks Murph,

I really hope Police forces nation wide adopt what Pittsburgh does.

This type of equipment really does protect police and the citizens of the USA even if they commit a crime.

A synthesizer can create any instrument made and others that have not been created yet.

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Nirek
Member

KT, I think they should wear those body cams so they can document for their benefit and the benefit of citizens. I think that is a good idea.

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MurphTheSurf3
Editor

Completely agree. I know an officer who was opposed to his force adopting them and now say: “I feel a lot safer with my cam and so does the public.”

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