Should police officers be required to wear body cameras? | The Tylt
After another fatal police shooting of an unarmed woman—who called 911 for help—activists are once again calling for mandatory body cameras on all police officers. Supporters say recording encounters between citizens and cops reduces police violence and protects officers by providing supervisors, judges, and reporters objective evidence of incidents. But skeptics point out body cameras are costly and create privacy concerns for both cops and citizens. What do you think? 👮 📸
Should police officers be required to wear body cameras?
Research on the effect of body cameras on interactions between civilians and the police is extremely promising. In one year-long study in Orlando, use-of-force incidents dropped 53 percent among officers with the cameras. Civilian complaints also dropped 65 percent. Other trials show similarly encouraging results.
But others point out body cameras aren't some failsafe solution to police violence. The Minneapolis officers who shot and killed Justine Damond, an unarmed Australian woman, did have body cameras, but they were not turned on. Maybe the issue isn't about documenting police violence, but about training law enforcement not to use deadly force on unarmed civilians.
the call for body cameras is an acknowledgement we can't trust the police unless we spend millions more to watch them. no thank you— Desmond Cole (@DesmondCole) July 19, 2017
When police officer Darren Wilson was not charged with any crime after shooting Michael Brown—an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri—Brown's family made a statement calling for body cameras to record all police interactions.
We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions. While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.
At Motherboard, Harlan Yu argues against body cameras.
Despite the popular narrative about the benefits of body-worn cameras, they carry huge risks for communities, especially for our overpoliced communities of color. Major civil rights and civil liberties organizations—from the NAACP and the ACLU, to grassroots racial justice groups—fear that "these new devices could become instruments of injustice, rather than tools for accountability," as a coalition of them wrote in a 2015 statement.
They are right to worry. Police departments across the country have consistently failed to implement policy safeguards that are critical to protecting the civil rights of individuals captured on video.
While body cameras might not solve all of the problems, many social justice advocates say they are an important tool for improved police community relations, and could actually save lives.
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