Should Body Cameras Be Mandatory For All Police?

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In Balch Springs, Texas, where a police officer recently shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards as the teenager’s car was driving away. The police department had video that showed what happened was inconsistent with the officer’s initial statement, thanks to the body-worn camera on the officer. Three days after Jordan was killed, the officer who shot him was fired and now faces murder charges.

As the investigation continues, one thing is absolutely clear — video technology is shaping our world, particularly in the context of police oversight.
Technology is neither good nor bad. It’s what we make it. Last month, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) expanded its body-worn camera pilot program for patrol officers. As the program sparks healthy debate throughout the City and the country, I believe there is both a challenge and an opportunity in using this new technology — with privacy and justice as shared priorities. Concerns about how data will be collected, held, used and shared are legitimate. Yet body-worn camera footage — just like bystander and surveillance video — can be a tool for police accountability and for supporting officers who behave lawfully.

The NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), reviews almost 5,000 cases of alleged police misconduct every year. Investigators review many types of evidence, including video recordings from diverse sources like surveillance cameras, cell phones from witnesses and, in rare case, body-worn cameras.

Video footage provides investigators objective details of incidents. The CCRB recently analyzed allegations of misconduct in New York City over the last five years, and it found that these recordings help the CCRB make more determinations in allegations of police misconduct than in those without video. Currently, much of this footage is from civilians and CCTV.

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  • Pamela M

    I believe whole-heartedly that body cams should be mandatory for ALL police officers AND correctional officers! The misconduct has been so rampant and widespread, and it’s PAST time for some accountability. AND it’s time for the cops left out there to be known as “examples and protectors of justice” instead of all this doubt we live with now when dealing with them. I have personally experienced and seen police misconduct and abuse of authority several times and as a former supporter, it MAKES ME SICK! My own nephew is going to school to be a cop and I’ve already heard how “it’s okay (name), you’re with a cop right now”. APPALLING that he isn’t even out of school and has that mentality already…..
    NOW….just as all other evidence can, and does, get “tampered” with when in police care (vital case evidence was erased from my own phone when it was in police custody) it’s even MORE important that these video’s go to and be stored with some type of outside protections, monitoring, and care. OTHERWISE, the body cams simply become another item police can “manipulate” to “suit the needs of their case” and this would be a HUGE Travesty. (See https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/a-cop-fires-a-teen-dies-yet-six-police-body-cameras-somehow-miss-what-happens/2017/03/20/c7d801a8-0824-11e7-b77c-0047d15a24e0_story.html?utm_term=.f04bb871ee22 for a great example of this). UNITE AMERICA, we NEED CHANGE!! It’s not just a “black or white” issue when it comes to the cops, it’s literally a “black AND white” issue, and people of ALL colors and backgrounds needs to band together to make this change!!

  • Phakt

    Mandatory body cams, mandatory defensive martial arts training (to high levels). A BA in criminal justice. Internship for 6 months for assessment. 100k+ salary to go along with it. No more flunky school bullies.

  • itstherecit

    “small camera” technology has been around for MANY years…the first i saw it used was while i was watching poker tournaments on tv…i had been aware of the “police/cop problem” for years, thanks to my son for that, and i saw immediately the useful applications these tiny cameras could be used for….this “poker” technology has been used for at least 12 years but it took a few highly publicized (mike brown) murders by cops to get the “body cam” on the cops (4 or 5 years ago)….i had doubts that cop unions would let the cameras be used and am still wondering why they are….to answer the question which is the title of this article…YES>>>YES>>>YES…and if for some reason any cop who fails to turn theirs on, claims malfunction, or tampers with recorded evidence must be suspended without pay, if warranted fired and brought up on felony charges of perjury and conspiracy at minimum

    • Sutter Cane

      Wholeheartedly agree!!

  • Nancy Mueller

    they should all wear body cams and car videos should be functioning at all times. However…they can be shut off and on to edit themselves. All equipment should be keyed on at the division, time taken and keyed off once the shift is over by the staff sgt.

    • Jessyelena Williams

      BEST IDEA EVER!

  • Matt Lee

    It’s not like it does any good. Cops still do what they want and they still get away with it. It doesn’t matter if they kill people on camera. It doesn’t even matter if they obviously lie about it. They still get away with it. So why even have the body cameras? All it does is give us more videos to watch that make us more pissed off that our law system is run so terribly and that we can’t do anything about it.

    • Mustafa Curtess

      So ——- “What the eye doesn’t see – the mind doesn’t ponder” Huh?

  • Until a community has accountability mechanisms which can be demonstrated to regularly sustain discipline for police misconduct, body-worn cameras will operate as detached surveillance devices. If your state has amended open-records laws for public documents – to prevent civilian request – or permit random review of footage, they will not be job performance assessment tools. As with “anything you say can be used against you,” video evidence will only be used to make criminal cases. For states which do not prohibit facial recognition software (which will be used covertly anyway) cams have capacity to act as dragnet surveillance devices: those who pass the lens will be assessed for outstanding warrants, back child support, or even a history of ‘anti-police’ dissent.
    Cameras in the hands of a coordinated, well-trained public are vital: in most cases they present the only independent in-the-field documentation of actual police conduct. We must make copwatching neighborly; work so that it is seen as a civic duty among those who seek safer streets and fair application of justice.
    http://consulthardesty.hardspace.info/work-product/legislation/cams

  • Jessyelena Williams

    THERE SHOULD BE NO EXCUSES! THEY SHOULD BE ON 24/7! IF NOT ON., FIRE THEIR ASSES!

  • db

    yes, and if the camera is turned off, left in car, or covered up: pig is guilty.

  • Sutter Cane

    Yes!!! Is this really still a question?!?!

  • db

    Yes. And if the camera is turned off, left off, or obscured; the pig is guilty and the “perp” is innocent.

  • police state

    Yes the police in this country should be required to wear an operational camera while on duty. This Camera will be allowed to be turned off during restroom use and lunch breaks. But must. be active when in the performance of they’re duty. If for any reason the camera is not able to operate the officer must return to his department and obtain another working unit. Also all cameras must stream live to a cloud based account. This account is only accessible by the chief of police and the DA,s office, and any time this file is accessed it must be noted time date and by who, Also records must be kept for 5 years minimum, one year if no complaints are brought.

    • Mustafa Curtess

      Why does it need to be turned off – even then?

      • police state

        read. your question and thought I Mustafa laugh about this. do you really need to ask why.

        • Mustafa Curtess

          Seriously – what would the body-cam show besides the upper part of a urinal or the inside of the toilet cubicle door? Or what he is having for lunch. (Well – I guess it would show if he was getting or giving a blow-job – but at least it would show whether it is consentual.) Meanwhile it WOULD show that he is actually taking a break – and not somewhere else robbing, beating, or killing someone.

  • JudeThree

    easy answer. YES they should be required. Anyone who works within the community and carries a weapon of any kind should be required. That includes the jackasses that think they are cops..you know the ones like dog the bounty hunter.