Should Police Wear Body Cameras Today

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Should police wear body cameras? What are their pros and cons of them? Have you ever been pulled over and seen a police officer wearing one? Police body cameras are known for helping in cases recording evidence and providing evidence during an arrest. The use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement offers potential advantages in keeping officers safe, enabling situational awareness, improving community relations and accountability, and providing evidence for trials. However, some believed that requiring officers to wear body cameras would reduce the amount of unnecessary violence and force some officers to use them during arrests and traffic stops. I researched the topic because I know the racism and brutality in the police force and I’m curious to see how much police body cameras are benefiting the conflict. 

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A police officer pulled over a civilian for not having a front license plate and the video camera clearly shows Officer Tensing stopped Samuel DuBose because he didn’t have a front license plate. Tensing then asked for a driver’s license. DuBose didn’t give Tensing his license. Tensing asked DuBose to take off his seat belt. DuBose’s car then began moving forward, away from Tensing. The officer, even though DuBose and the car didn’t pose a threat, shot DuBose, killing him. And yet even with the video showing the entire sequence of events, and even with Judge Dennis Deters calling the shooting “unwarranted,” Deters this week said that he’ll drop the case against Tensing — after not one but two mistrials caused by a hung jury. So the jury simply could not come to an agreement although the camera footage clearly showed that officer Tensing shot the man, they still could not decide if he was guilty or not. So not only did actual camera footage does absolutely nothing to help the trial, but an officer got away with killing an innocent man.

The ability of law enforcement to fight crime effectively continues to depend on the public’s perception of the legitimacy of the actions of officers. Several recent civil disturbances across the United States after instances of lethal use of force by officers highlight the ongoing challenges in maintaining the public’s perceptions of law enforcement legitimacy, particularly as it concerns the use of force. Body-worn cameras have been viewed as one way to address these challenges and improve law enforcement practice more generally. The technology, which can be mounted on an officer’s eyeglasses or chest area, offers real-time information when used by officers on patrol or other assignments that bring them into contact with members of the community. Another benefit of body-worn cameras is their ability to provide law enforcement with a surveillance tool to promote officer safety and efficiency and prevent crime.

This technology has diffused rapidly across the United States. In 2013, approximately one-third of U.S. municipal police departments had implemented the use of body-worn cameras. So how beneficial are the cameras exactly? Should police wear body cameras?

Bystanders have recorded on cell phone video a large number of incidents where officers appear to unjustifiably harm or kill civilians, sparking outrage across the country and making us wonder what additional abuses our cameras have missed. Communities are no longer willing to take police officers’ word for it that force was necessary for violent incidents, and this lack of trust makes it difficult for police to do their jobs. In response, citizens and legislators have called for all officers to use body-worn cameras so that all interactions with civilians are recorded. Many people are hopeful that this technology will reduce abuses of power. Unfortunately, the evidence so far is mixed. advocates hope that the cameras will have a civilizing effect on all involved: officers and civilians alike should behave better when they know their behavior is being recorded, reducing the number of violent interactions between officers and civilians. In cases where officers do use force, the video footage will offer factual evidence about what occurred, so that abusive officers can be quickly disciplined, fired, or even convicted of crimes, preventing them from further abusive use of force. If BWCs have either of these effects, the use of force by police should fall. However, it is not 100% effective but it comes down to who the police officer is and what the situation is.

In conclusion. Police Department, found that when police were equipped with cameras during the test period, use of force incidents and citizen complaints against officers were reduced by 50 and 90 percent respectively. Their findings spurred national interest in the benefits body cameras could potentially provide. However, according to a November 2015 report from The Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University, at the time existing research on body-worn cameras left gaps in our understanding of their effect, with several important questions, such as whether body cameras have an impact on police performing their duties within the bounds of the Fourth Amendment, receiving little to no evaluative attention. The report provides a detailed account of which questions were addressed in each available body camera study. Since then, research into body-worn cameras has continued to progress.  

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