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.
“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.