Police Body Cameras
Anthropology mainly focuses on examining a culture ideologies and beliefs without passing any judgment or indicating whether it is right or wrong. Likewise, most of the classical arguments about the use of police body camera are deeply rooted in our history, nature, and society. For instance, police use of force is under heavy scrutiny in the United States because of the fatal encounters in Baltimore, Ferguson, and New York City. These debates have led to increased public attention to law enforcement officers wearing body cameras while on duty. Proponents believe that these technological appliances provide a society with transparency and trust, hence making evidence that reduces false complaints and allegations. The opponents of body surveillance have issues against pervasive government surveillance and intrusion of public privacy (Ariel et al. 748). This paper will seek to examine whether the use of body camera in the United States police force can help control police brutality.
Research published by the Journal of Experimental Criminology established that body cameras positively influenced public-police interactions. The study found that the use of body cameras had a progressive impact on a cooperation of police with society. The cameras ensured that the police officers maintained caution and were more risk averse while dealing with the general public. According to Ready and Young (452), the criminal procedures and policies outlined were carefully followed by camera-wearing policemen leading to fewer arrests and risks. In addition, the police representatives verified that video proof had a great potential for public scrutiny especially when officer fails to issue tickets in the case where video evidence proves that the citizen had violated the stipulated laws (Ready and Young 449).
Further, law enforcement agencies reveal that recording of video by body cameras protects police against any false accusation, misconduct, or abuse. A report realized by San Diego Police Department disclosed that body cameras significantly reduced police misconduct and aggressiveness. Therefore, body-worn cameras have positively impacted the force activities (Garrick n.p). Moreover, allegations of police misconduct and forceful engagement have greatly declined since the introduction of body cameras. Additionally, unresolved applications have reduced since issues of lack of evidence are rare. As a result, countless officers have been exonerated and false claims deemed untrue (Garrick, n.p.). Statistics provides the evidence that body-worn cameras would indeed discourage violence. Moreover, the use of police body camera will provide justice of accountability for police officers misconduct.
Despite the great number of advantages of body camera, law enforcement agencies have adamantly resisted the use of this technology, despite a recorded decrease in the violence and complaints from residents. According to Ariel et al (752), the most important issue relates to the lack of privacy for police officers while on duty. For instance, during the recent Las Vegas shooting, camera footage showed the chaotic search for the gunman. Police executives have campaigned for this new technology, because it translates to better accountability in cases of civil liability, However, field officers fear that major limitations might arise, hindering any use of discretion during work.
The proliferation of surveillance cameras has had a great impact on the public. Historically, there was no available documentary evidence of most police civilian encounters which resulted in volatile cases with radically divergent accounts of incidents (Ariel, William, and Sutherland 509). Likewise, the deployment of body cameras could potentially intrude privacy. Since officers usually enter people’s houses during stressful and extreme situations, the challenge lies in moderating the tension involved when they invade individual privacy in an attempt to promoting police accountability. Parliament acknowledges that camera deployment requires a strong policy framework ensuring citizen protection without becoming a routine public surveillance system. Without such a support structure, the benefits that accrue from accountability would barely exceed the risks of privacy (Stanley). On-officer cameras have significant technology innovation implications. Hence, the device has also major conflicting values. Perhaps the most essential thing is to ensure control over recordings can be maintained making certain that the police record with limitless discretion and unfit encounters cannot be deleted without authorization.
The main challenge faced by the citizens is limiting the threat to privacy since police body cameras record many instances of entirely innocent behavior like inside people’s homes. Sometimes videos are taken for no particular reasons without any value to the public rather than embarrassing the individuals involved. Most privacy protection policies must restrict subsequent retention and use of personal recordings. Data should only be retained for a period to achieve the initial purpose for collection, after that it should be destroyed to avoid its public distribution. Majority of public police encounters do not require the preservation of video evidence, therefore recordings should be deleted relatively quickly.
Police misconduct and use of extra force is an international concern that has involved a lot of interest from the scholars, practitioners, and the general public. Law enforcement agencies and the justice system also hold strong opinions in relation to this matter. Yet, the constant justification of the use of excessive power by police, whether it is necessary or not could potentially worsen the relationship between the government and the community. Police brutality often translates to public complaints and opposition incurring major economic and social costs (Ariel, William, and Sutherland 516). The use of cameras during duty may hinder the prevalence of police brutality and public complaints if the privacy issues are addressed.
Ariel, Barak, William A. Farrar, and Alex Sutherland. “The effect of police body-worn cameras on use of force and citizens’ complaints against the police: A randomized controlled trial.” Journal of quantitative criminology, no. 31.3, 2015, pp. 509-535.
Ariel, Barak, et al. “Wearing body cameras increases assaults against officers and does not reduce police use of force: Results from a global multi-site experiment.” European Journal of Criminology, no. 13.6, 2016, pp. 744-755.
Garrick, David. “Report: SDPD Body Cameras Reducing Misconduct, Aggressive Use Of Force.” Sandiegouniontribune, 2017
http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sd-me-body-cameras-20170209-story.html Accessed 14 Oct. 2017.
Ready, Justin T., and Jacob T. N. Young. “The Impact Of On-Officer Video Cameras On Police–Citizen Contacts: Findings From A Controlled Experiment In Mesa, AZ.” Journal Of Experimental Criminology, no. 3, 2015, pp. 445-458
Stanley, Jay. “Police body-mounted cameras: With right policies in place, a win for all.” New York, ACLU, 2013.