Accelerated by a New York Times story published last fall, momentum requiring the nation’s police to wear body cameras while on duty is quickly accelerating and could be closer to reality than even the most optimistic industry observers first thought.
Tom McKay, cleverly using a Facebook meme (attached) as his journalistic cornerstone, writes today for The Police Mic that police departments requiring officers to wear body cameras while on duty have seen dramatic declines in both reported brutality cases and misconduct complaints filed by citizens. Coupled with dash cams and digital audio recorders (both in widespread use already), body cameras provide independent observers with a clear picture of an arrest or disturbance—either resulting in an officer being cleared of wrongdoing or held accountable for violating procedural code of conduct.
So what are the police afraid of?
Well, in most cities the answer is nothing. In fact, The Police Foundation has endorsed a study analyzing the use of body cameras, which found implementing policies requiring officers to wear the devices on duty resulted in a more than 50 percent drop in reported misconduct. Los Angeles, New Orleans and Dallas are just a few of the departments either already requiring body cameras or in the process of doing so. Chiefs and city councils in hundreds of cities and communities across the country are examining the issue.
Additionally, the evolution of body cameras is being injected with an old fashioned American entrepreneurial spirit thanks to companies like Wolfcom, one of the nation’s leaders in body camera production. The company offers several different models for use by police, and several departments on the west coast—including Los Angeles—have brought Wolfcom into their department for consultation.
Newspaper Editor’s Op/Ed Praises Use of Body Cams
Roger Chesley wrote an editorial this morning calling the use of body cameras by the local police an “extra set of eyes” that “cut through the fog of competing stories.”
Far from the first newspaperman to endorse the use body cameras, Chesley’s editorial reflects a growing readiness on the part of the press, public and even the ACLU to require police to wear the devices while on duty. Even most police chiefs think the use of body cameras will better help serve the public and protect both officers and civilians.
Some officers in Chesley’s local department have been voluntarily wearing the cameras since 2008, and Chesley calls using the cameras on a wide-spread scale a “no brainer.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Despite the initial startup costs, which typically include training and supoort in maintaining the equipment, body cameras have the potential to protect municipalities from lawsuits and other civil filings. Preventing one case of police brutality can save tax payers millions of dollars, not to mention the bad press.
Now that’s a no brainer.