There is much concern from the public about the cameras that are to be carried by the police at all times. This concern may very well create a larger trust gap between the public and the police if the people’s fears are not tended to. The thought of police cameras may be a little frightening but they are not intended to be a threat to the public.
I’m aware of the concern over the use of the cameras to corrupt police. Some might say that, “It should be no surprise that when cameras or other devices are used to monitor patrol officers, they have responded by turning off cameras and microphones, by forgetting to turn them on or to insert fresh tapes, by changing the camera angle, and by deleting strips of images” (Scheindlin and Manning). By simply turning off cameras, police have the ability to filter out unwanted content. I understand the disdain of the public in this matter, but to generalize officers is wrong.
Often, police simply forget to turn on the cameras. Sgt. Dan Waters of the Spokane Police Dept., in Washington, says that, “Remembering to turn on the camera was sometimes a challenge because officers may enter an incident in progress quickly and forget to hit the button (Alexander). There are a lot of panicked situations that police enter. With all of that adrenaline, the cameras are easy to forget if they are not used to using them. Forgetting to turn on the camera is a problem, but with proper training, it can be fixed (Alexander). Over time, this dilemma will eventually be solved.
There should be no reason that any good officer would even want the camera to be off, because the police benefit greatly from the footage taken. When a lone officer is accused of unnecessary action, cameras are there to record what really happened, and to justify his actions. Many police have been exonerated with the help of their cameras. One example of this is when four officers in Cleveland opened fire at a man and killed him.
The recordings showed, during their trial, that they first tried to reason with the armed man who would not put his gun away (Gass). Officers have the freedom to not turn on the cameras, but they would risk the chance of getting stuck in that dilemma, so they are better off using the cameras.
What about the public? How do the cameras protect us? Some would say that they don’t. Some argue that, even with supervision and training, officers have not changed, so why should cameras make a difference (Scheindlin and Manning). As a matter of fact, the cameras do change how police behave.
While being recorded, police are less likely to resort to unnecessary force. Body cameras in California have reduced complaints by 60 percent, in Arizona, the use of force had decreased by 75 percent, in Idaho, the use of force had been decreased by 24 percent, and in Washington, the use of force dropped by 88 percent (Scheindlin and Manning).
Clashes between police and citizens usually have the problem of one-man’s-word-against-the-other’s so it is difficult to distinguish who is right. Attorney Joseph Kohn says, “It is hard to hold individual officers accountable without court testimony or actual evidence of discrimination” (Arnett). The cameras collect the evidence to keep police officers accountable and to prevent the one-man’s-word-against-the-other’s problem.
Numerous officers agree that cameras are the way to create a more peaceful atmosphere on their part (Arnett).
The biggest concern for the majority of the population is that the cameras might impede on their privacy. I, too, value my privacy, but in this age of technology, privacy may not be a possibility. Using everyday technology, many organizations, not just police, collect our personal information on a daily basis. These organizations are trustworthy in our eyes because they are the banks who hold our credit information, social security that holds more personal information, and the social media that we share our lives with.
There should be no need to worry about the police. Just as the banks are bound by a contract to handle your credit responsibly, and social security is bound by contract to handle your personal information, police are bound by the law to handle whatever information that they’ve collected without malice. Know that if there is any threat that is caused by the information collected by the police from the cameras, it is not the police themselves.
It may be a little disconcerting that there will be cameras in several locations around our homes, but this is a precaution taken by the police to benefit the innocent.
Police work hard for our safety and could use the support from both technology and the community. Why should we not allow them the privilege of technology to improve their performance?
"NJ law requiring police car cameras ruled unconstitutional." Philadelphia Inquirer [Philadelphia, PA] 21 Apr. 2016. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 27 April 2016.
Autumn, A. Arnett. "Experts: Accountability Key to Change in Police Behavior." Diverse Issues in Higher Education 32.16 (2015): 11. ProQuest. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
Shira, A. Scheindlin, and K. Manning Peter. "Will the Widespread use of Police Body Cameras Improve Police Accountability?" Americas Quarterly 9.2 (2015): 24-7.
ProQuest. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
Alexander, Rachel. "POLICE BODY CAMERA PILOT ENDS Review, Implementation Planned in Next Year." Spokesman ReviewDec 31 2014. ProQuest. Web. 27 Apr. 2016
Gass, Henrey. “Cleveland Case shows how Body Cameras can Help Police (+Video).”
The Christian Science Monitor. Web. 13 Oct, 2015.